As I look out my window, I’m surprised to see green again. Grass is finally peeking through after we received nearly 30 inches of snow. Even after all that shoveling, all I wish for is that powdery white. When February hits, all I want to do is ski. Maybe it’s a holdover from my childhood when we used to get a mid-winter February break – a kind of Pavlovian yearning to be cruising down the slopes this month. Either way, when I see snowflakes, I think trails.
When my food allergic son was old enough, my husband (an avid skier) was ready to enroll him in ski school. But the idea of trying to manage food issues on a ski vacation seemed challenging. For one, ski lodges never seem that organized. I couldn’t imagine who I might track down to get ingredient information on their chicken nuggets, for example – especially at mid-mountain or higher. Secondly, there’s SO MUCH gear, etc to bring to the slopes, how was I going to carry (and where could I store and easily access) snacks and lunch for him if we brought some from home? Finally, could I reasonably rely on the ski school to look out for him at lunch vis-à-vis his food allergies?
Well, fast forward almost 8 years, and I can happily tell you that we’ve had a lot of success on the slopes. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the past few years:
1. Call ahead – way ahead. Ski lodges are not nearly as disorganized as I had thought. They’re just a lot more relaxed. But they take food safety seriously. Be prepared to leave a message and have someone get back to you. There is typically a food services manager who is knowledgeable about the suppliers and who can track down ingredients for you. Be sure to ask where kids in ski school usually eat and what kinds of food they receive (are they given snacks, do they have free range on the cafeteria line, etc).
2. Bring your epinephrine autoinjector and show up for ski school EARLY. Meet with your child’s ski instructor – teach them how to use the autoinjector and WHEN. Remind them that they will need to store it in an inside pocket of their ski jacket to keep it close to room temperature.
3. Find out where and when your child will be having lunch and consider meeting them to help them navigate the cafeteria line. But DON’T expect to eat with them! Skiing creates fast friendships and they’ll have more fun hanging out with their ski buddies – go have a lunchtime date instead!
4. Pack some safe snacks and store them in your ski locker, car or somewhere else that is readily accessible. Kids are STARVING when they get off the slopes and cafeterias typically close right when the lifts do.
Now we just need some snow! Happy trails in the meantime!