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Can I eat school meals if I am allergic to some food?

Coeliac disease

If you have coeliac disease this means that your body is intolerant of a protein called gluten. Gluten is a part of some cereals like wheat, barley and rye - and foods made from these such as bread, pasta, cakes and pastry. If you eat gluten you will experience symptoms like a bloated tummy, diarrhea, tiredness and mouth ulcers. Over time you may see effects such as hair loss and illnesses like weak bones, and you will not grow as fast as you should for your age because it is harder for your body to absorb nutrients from food if your gut is damaged.

You can eat meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, beans, rice, cornflakes, and cereals called quinoa and buckwheat. You can have bread and pasta made with gluten-free flour- your doctor and dietician will tell you about this.

Allergies

Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly thinks the protein part of a food is harmful. Food allergies can be caused by any food but the most common foods are milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, shellfish and fish. Some children grow out of their allergies, but others will have them for life. If you have a severe food allergy, your body may go into shock if you eat even the tiniest amount of the food that you are allergic to (so tiny you cannot see it), and this extreme allergic reaction can be life-threatening.

If you have coeliac disease or a food allergy, you still need the same nutrients as other children your age, and the food that you are offered at school should be just as nutritious as the food the other children can eat. The law says that your school must be safe for you, which means that the food that you can access at school must not be able to cause you harm. Your school should work with you, your parents/carers, and your doctor and dietician to make sure that you have a choice of food at school that you enjoy.