Going to school with IBD
With the new school year about to begin there are many parents facing managing their child’s IBD while they are at school. Many children are embarrassed to be singled out as being different so it becomes increasingly important to handle this topic with care.
Depending on what your school cafeteria serves you may find that it is easier to fuel your IBDer with brown bag lunches from home. That way you can help to avoid some of the issues that might arise when trying to pick from foods that may cause a flare up. This is especially useful in younger children who may not have as clear a grasp on what they can and can’t eat as an older child might.
If you live in a larger city you may have more access to all natural convenience products that can be stashed into a lunch bag quickly. Some of us don’t have that luxury so we have to be a bit more creative.
I have found that it is essential for my daughter to have a lunch box that you can place an ice pack in. The one I found for her has a spot just designed to zip an ice pack into it and then it keeps the area where the food is cool. This gives me a lot more options on what I can send with my picky eater.
Some of the easiest things to include in a lunch are sandwiches, organic yogurt, bananas, crackers, pretzels, homemade muffins, all natural string cheese (if tolerated), fruit cups, Jello, and other quick foods. It is hard to incorporate veggies if your little one has a sensitive tummy. Some veggies will be fine cooked and eaten cold or you can try to add a juice that contains vegetables or a combo of fruit and vegetables. Some days I just make sure we have more vegetables at another meal instead. These lunches can be packed the night before to save some time in the morning. (Read more about diet and nutrition information for IBD)
If your IBDer needs to have an extra snack during the day or may require extra time in the bathroom these things should be discussed with the school prior to the first day of class. Most schools work very hard to accommodate children without singling them out. It may be especially helpful to develop a “code” for your child to signal his or her teacher to any GI discomfort since most children can be embarrassed to bring it up in class. You might even want to role play cute comebacks should classmates ask about the issue.
Get to know your school nurse and be sure they are on the same page as to your child’s medical history and need for medications during school hours. Be sure to provide contact information for your child’s physician if needed. All of these things can make going back to school much less stressful for a child with IBD.