This comic perfectly articulates what has been a running theme in my head and I have not been able to voice it so succinctly.
Ah the good old school camp. As parents of kids with intolerances, allergies and/or behavioural challenges doesn’t it just make you want to run screaming?
You’ll either get a laugh out of this latest one or be horrified that they can feed children this kind of sh…stuff. I was both. The good thing was they provided examples of the food which is more than I have had in the past. But more about this later.
School camps are just the next level of parenting for allergy kids after the nice old days of Birthday party catering when you just had to supply a cupcake and maybe some other treats. Each camp it always starts out the same.
Me: How is the camp going to cater for the many intolerances my daughter has?
Teacher: The camp’s catering staff are experts at catering to any allergy. Just make sure you list it on the sheet.
Me: Some of her allergies are a bit obscure. Could I have a look at the menu just to see if there are any substitutes I need to send with her?
Teacher: They have assured us they can cater for allergies. I don’t have / can’t provide you with a copy of the menu. She’ll be fine. You cannot send food. None of the students are allowed to bring food.
Me: *submit form detailing intolerances*
Teacher: What are sulphites?
Me: Could I please have the contact details of the camp?
Teacher: We cannot give them to you. If every parent called because their children didn’t like something it would make it too difficult. (I seriously got this answer once!)
Me: *Googles and calls camp* *Repeat conversation*
Camp: We are experts in catering for allergies.
Me: What kind of milks do you have?
Camp: Trim, Lactose free and soy
Me: My daughter is intolerant to dairy and allergic to soy.
Camp: Maybe you should send some with her.
Me: *Bangs head on wall!*
So now I’m a lot more proactive. I start with the camp and immediately ask for the types of milk before I go any further. Once I point this out they will usually provide me with a menu and I do my best to replicate it.
Back to the horrifying ration pack for my daughter’s latest camp. This is my triumphant effort to replicate it.
It is not perfect or necessarily healthier by any means but it does cater for the main allergens of wheat and dairy. I could have made it healthier by packaging up our cereal and reducing the sugar by replacing things like the drinking chocolate, fruit bars, peanut butter etc (as my friend had to with a fructose malabsorbing son) but at 12 years old we are getting into social acceptance territory.
Not eating the same food as everyone else is very socially isolating. I’ve been there for the last 10 years and it is not a common consideration when catering for people with intolerances. You imagine serving a kid fruit while all their friends are eating chocolate cake around them! Adults can cope with this but kids find it very hard.
So I have included things that normally wouldn’t be allowed in our house. It is a fine line between dietary restrictions for their own good and teaching them to deal with being different, tempered with social inclusion. Hence picking my battles.
Sugar isn’t great for her particularly in these amounts but it is something that causes consequences I can generally live with for the three days after she comes home. My fructose malabsorbing daughter on the other hand would be in meltdown territory during the camp. The anxiety and meltdowns would cause her to miss out on all the personal growth activities these camps provide in turn causing social isolation. Again pick your battles.
I replicated the entire pack as I did not want her to have excuses to even enter the supply tent as the temptation would be too overwhelming. That said I can pretty much guarantee contraband will be consumed but I’ve done my best.
The next bit is probably overkill but crazy people like me get a kick out of organisation. I divided it into individual bags for each day. Problem was all my extra large ziplock bags had been used so had to leave out the meals but you get the general idea. Next step would be to make it more environmentally friendly by not using ziplock bags but hey give me a break – I’m doing this while starting Radiation therapy at the same time 😉
So my advice for school camps:-
- Open and honest communication with the school.
- Talk directly to the kitchen staff at the camp.
- Team up with parents of other allergy kids. This is where strength in numbers really helps.
- Ask for the food component of the camp costs to be removed from the invoice if you are supplying your own food.
My passion is to shine a light on food intolerances and allergies and make life that bit easier for parent, kids and all those concerned. If we all speak out together we might bring about the change that is required for the majority of society to think more about what they are consuming and not make us feel like social pariahs.
If you liked this article, share it within your circle so we can make a difference. I’d also love to hear about your experiences below.
Big thanks to my friend K as this was a joint effort. Strength in numbers people!
Talk about sidelined! That was nothing compared to what chemo did to me. I’ll leave the more gruesome details to specfic posts in my planned ‘Surving Chemo’ page but I would like to share my journey now that I can somewhat function. It still may take me a while but it was something I wanted to do from the start. Although I haven’t been able to write as I had hoped, I have been documenting pictorially and that jogs my memory to the powerful emotions and physical horrors I have been through.
Friday is my last dose of ‘Chemo’ and now the end is in sight I am hoping I can recover somewhat. However, it is only the end of one (extremely long and painful) chapter and I now have to ready myself for surgery and radiation which will take me through to Christmas. I am also still receiving another Chemo type drug for about a year but I’m hoping the everyday side effects aren’t too extreme so that I can start to heal and repair all the damage done by the very first dose of chemo I had.
Apologies to the people following for food intolerances as there will be a bit of a Cancer focus for a while. However, don’t despair as there will be a bit of content you may be interested in as I have made quite a bit of progress in this area. I can now eat a plate of veges and a chicken and vege soup with short cooked stock. So still stick around as I will also touch on my usual topics.
Is there anyone still out there?
I’ve been wanting to post for ages but finding motivation and energy is the hardest part. So my blog is going to have a bit of a Breast Cancer tangent for a while but bigger picture it will still have a wellness and allergy/intolerance focus because the biggest thing this diagnosis has shown me is the immediate need to completely overhaul my life.
But first, let’s survive Chemo!
I’m heading off camping this weekend and it is a very back to basics deal where we can’t take a car so have to carry everything ourselves. For me that is a challenge for food as I can’t take too much in the way of cooking equipment and food.
I’ve got a butane burner and a little fry pan so dinner is going to be steak but I don’t want to mess around peeling and boiling potatoes so I’ve been trying to find a potato salad recipe that I can actually eat. I’m not quite up to raw eggs (and I would be dubious about how it would keep in an esky) so that rules out most mayonnaise recipes and of course premade in a jar isn’t an option. Then I thought ‘No Egg’! And sure enough Orgran and Google prevailed!
Of course I still have to moderate that recipe as it is high Sals but theoretically it can be done. Let the experiment begin!
Orgran Egg Free Mayonnaise
Now the tweaks for us failsafers:-
Replace the oil with Rice Bran Oil, lemon juice with citric acid (I’m going to try 1 tsp as I’m a bit sensitive) and omit the mustard powder.
Not sure if you need help turning that into potato salad but if you do. Boil up some potatoes so they are still a little firm. Add the mayo and some parsley and/or chives and voila! Potato Salad!
Edit – Post Mayo Review
Ok it was crap! It will do in a pinch but was pretty tasteless even for me. The consistency went like mousse and it was very powdery. The big omission in this recipe is salt – it really needs it so add to your taste. Also I ended up adding 2 tsp citric acid but it didn’t help. It was edible but could have been better.
Any allergy Mum knows about the ‘School Cupcakes’. These are the cupcakes you have to keep in the school freezer for when other kids bring in birthday cakes to share.
Be it empathy or guilt over restricting their diet I hate when my kids have to miss out on some yummy treat that everyone else is eating so I do my best to substitute. That’s why there’s sprinkles on top. Not that they can compete with western diet over-abundance of all things sweet but it’s my little way to make it a bit special from the norm.
I got a bit lazy at 10pm last night when I finally got the chance (spied them on the cooling rack before bed and thought crap I need to ice them for the morning) to ice these cupcakes. In comes the good old Pure Harvest Chocolate Spread! It’s not nutella but as it is gluten/dairy/nut free my kids can have it on their sandwiches for school!
The cupcakes are the Orgran Chocolate Cake Mix and sprinkles are Hopper brand. Even I can tolerate the Hopper sprinkles! Unfortunately for the failsafe kids these cupcakes aren’t an option but you could use my Vanilla cake recipe and a simple icing sugar and water icing.
I have finally been able to try flying yoga and I love it!!
A new yoga studio has opened in Wynnum and it is offering a fantastic range of yoga classes including aerial yoga, vinyasa, hot yoga, pregnancy and kids. Check out their Facebook page for more info Warrior Life Yoga
Today was my third flying class and I’m getting comfortable enough to go straight into the inversions and push myself a bit further. It takes quite a bit of trust in yourself and the sling but once you’ve got the basics it’s easy. The instructor Kellie breaks down the moves to very easy steps and is always on hand to help if you get stuck.
Friday morning I tried out the Vinyasa and it was fantastic! I haven’t had been to a good class in ages so I was very happy when this one met all the criteria – good flow, enough of a push, knowledgeable teacher and 6am timeslot so that I can fit it in before work.
It has been so hard to find a class that I like and I can actually get to between work and looking after the kids! Check them out and support a new local business!