I have mixed emotions about the nut free table.
On one hand, there’s the fact that the whole table is free of any nuts, which is great if you have a food allergy like me. On the other hand, it discludes you from everyone else.
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When I was in elementary school, I sat at the peanut free table every day. It consisted of me, my best friend (who always brought a nut free lunch), one other nut allergy girl, and three nut allergy boys. That was it.
It was a section far away from all the other tables. I could only talk to those that sat at the nut free table because my grade was out of hearing distance. Nobody new ever came to the nut free table, and it stayed that way throughout elementary school.
Those were the cons.
The pros consisted of me staying safe from tree nuts and peanuts. I never had to worry about who I was sitting next to, or if they had nuts. I also didn’t have any food allergy bullying experiences where people tried to put nuts in my lunch, tried to give me nuts, etc.
But do the pros outweigh the cons?
If you have a child in elementary school or younger, if they haven’t learned enough about how to keep themselves safe from their food allergies, if they have very severe food allergies, or if they are new to having a food allergy, I would recommend sitting at the nut free table. This helps in keeping your kid safe from nuts (note that I said this helps — unfortunately, nothing will guarantee that your kid won’t somehow encounter nuts).
If you have/are an older child, if you feel like they are capable of knowing how to keep themselves safe from their food allergies, or if they have less severe food allergies, consider the possibility of letting them sit at a regular lunch table. Keeping them at the nut free table will probably make them feel isolated, and there is no point in keeping them at the nut free table if they are capable of being at a regular lunch table.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you. Only you can make this decision for your child; no one else can. However, if you are thinking about letting your kid sit at a regular lunch table, please, please, please talk to your doctor first. I am not a doctor and can not tell you what the right choice is for your kid. I am just here to give my opinion on this topic; I can’t provide any medical advice.
If you are a kid without food allergies, or if you are a parent with a kid who doesn’t have food allergies; consider packing a nut free lunch (this includes anything that has nuts, nut oils, nut flours, is processed with nuts, etc. Please read all ingredients labels!) for your kid, and ask them to sit at the nut free table. They may stare at you like you have three heads, but trust me, you will make some food allergy kids very happy to know that they have a new nut free friend around. (And if you would like some suggestions for nut free snacks that they can bring, check out the food section on nallergy.)
What are your nut free table experiences? What’s your opinion on the nut free table? Leave a comment below!