Low Protein & School Dinners
Teenage years can be a difficult time for young people with metabolic conditions requiring low protein diets. Teenagers go through a challenging stage of their life with understanding their place in the world, peer pressure and starting to think about their career choices. Managing a low protein diet is vital through this crucial time of life. In this blog we are sharing Katya Sheridan’s personal experience of the challenges she and her son Matthew, 14 years old are facing on a daily basis managing Matthew’s diet whilst in school and providing some tips.
“Matthew is in Year 9 and being at a Grammar School he is facing challenges every day. Matthew plays rugby and football and PKU doesn’t stop him at all. He never complains about following a special diet. We are very lucky to have wonderful catering staff at school who look after Matthew’s dietary requirements very well. Having other children with different dietary requirements in school such as gluten and lactose free, school catering team fully understand and appreciate Matthew’s low protein diet. When Matthew moved to high school, I had a meeting with key catering staff to guide them on Matthew’s diet and agree on the action plan for his school meals. We have agreed that I will be providing them with Matthew’s prescription foods such as low protein fresh bread, burger mix, All Purpose Baking Mix, low protein pasta and rice, chocolate, cake mixes, etc. I have also been providing school with crisps and mini cakes available from supermarkets to make up for his exchanges during lunch. We have built very good relationship with the catering staff who look after Matthew’s meals very well and make sure he has a good variety. We are also very lucky that the school catering staff come up with new recipes and meal ideas for Matthew which is much appreciated.”
Attached is an example of Matthew’s school meals which we hope will be useful inspiration.
- Be open with school welfare and catering staff about PKU and the dietary requirements.
- Work out a meal plan that works both for your teenager and school catering team.
- Consult your local council about supporting children with special dietary needs
- Share links from registered charities such as NSPKU, PKUAI, ESPKU and NPKUA with your school to help them have greater understanding of the challenges low protein diets bring
- If you need to, don’t hesitate to contact your local support groups such as NSPKU, PKUAI, ESPKU and NPKUA (https://www.nspku.org/ | http://pku.ie/ | https://www.espku.org/ | www.npkua.org)
- Stock up on low protein snacks and instant meals to ensure your teenager doesn’t go hungry
- Build trust and develop an open dialogue with your teenager so that they feel open about their diet and share any concerns they may have about their school meals
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