Talking about food allergy
and its management
When communicating to your child about their food allergy, consider following some of the approaches below:
- Start with the basics. Make sure your child knows how and why they have to avoid a certain food. If they have a food allergy explain that it can cause symptoms and how avoiding some foods can minimise the risk of an allergic reaction1
- Make it easy to understand and relevant to their world. Use simple terms and age- appropriate language. For example, explain that their body does not like certain foods and if they eat these specific foods it can make them poorly
- Bring it to life. It can be difficult for your child to understand what they are actually allergic to – particularly if they don’t know what the food they are allergic to looks like. Pictures from the internet or in books are helpful, or you could show them the food in the supermarket, so they can better understand the cause of their symptoms1
- What if I’ve not tried a new food before? If your child has an allergy, you need to teach your child to always ask an adult before they try new foods – they should know not to eat food outside of the home unless they have been told it is okay to do so
As well as making sure your child is informed about their condition, you may want to share your child’s special nutritional plan in the form of an allergy treatment plan, so that all of the teachers are aware of what your child can and cannot have – remember, even if your child is in the same school they will often have new teachers so their special nutritional needs do need to be documented in a plan which is easy to pass onto new teachers if needed.
If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your healthcare professional.
- Allergy UK, 2012: http://www.allergyuk.org/downloads/factsheets/childhood-allergy/Five%20key%20things%20to%20learn.pdf Accessed 24th July 2014.