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Oh Nuts!! Successfully going peanut-free

By Eileen Ferrer, Skinny Gene Nutritionist


Preparing for school, you may have had to go school shopping to purchase most or all of the items on what may seem like a never ending list of school supplies.  The list may bring up possible thoughts like.. Do they really need to use a protractor; my child is only in the first grade? However, I digress. But those lists don’t include foods appropriate to purchase for a nut-free classroom or school.

Many students are affected by nut allergies, specifically from peanuts. Peanut allergies are common amongst children, with several reports of deadly or near-lethal peanut-related incidences in previous years. Peanut proteins are the cause of allergic reactions that lead to symptoms such as, hives or shortness of breath, or more severe reactions like anaphylaxis. If you are allergic, peanuts in all varieties should be avoided at all times. Be careful, they can also be found in many prepared foods, ingredients, or in trace amounts if a product is manufactured in the facility that processes peanuts. Common foods to watch out for are sauces, baked goods, breakfast cereals, granola bars, trail mix, and candy bars.

A list of hidden names for peanuts compiled by Kids with Food Allergies, a division from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, can be found here.

Many schools have combated against peanut allergies. Whether they have proclaimed to be a nut-free establishment or not, schools have provided students with an assortment of food alternatives to nuts. You can also come prepared with some of these nut-free lunch and snack ideas. Try a strawberry and low-fat cream cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread or a pizza roll up. For a quick snack try like air-popped popcorn or baked pita chips with hummus. If your child wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, there are a variety of butters made from seeds and soy beans out on the market to try.

Allergies are a serious concern for families, but don’t be worried because there is hope with many schools going the nut-free route and/or offering healthy alternatives for students. This is also a great time to be creative with your child in making new nut-free recipes for them and the entire family. So go nuts, or not.

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