Holiday parties are lots of fun, but they can be a source of stress when you have a child with food allergies.
My youngest child has nut allergies. I remember one time during a holiday event, a friend of my husband’s offered her a piece of fudge. After she’d eaten it, she got very, very sick. It was then that I asked the friend if there were any nuts in the fudge. He replied, “No nuts, just peanut butter.” I’ve also had family members who deny that my child has allergies and attempt to feed her nuts to “prove” to me that she’s really fine.
We’ve developed some strategies over the years which have helped keep her safe during holiday events with a minimal amount of stress and effort.
Keep Your Child Close
When she was young, I’d bring her food to the party. Since she was so young, she didn’t really care about the party foods. If people offered her food, I was there to say “no thanks, she ate already.” Life was pretty simple because I could closely monitor her diet.
Talk with the Hostess
My friend has a daughter with severe food allergies, and she’s used this strategy. Before an event, she’ll go over the menu with the hostess and ask about ingredients. She then knows which foods her child will need to avoid. Most of the party hosts have been very gracious with her and some have even offered to make foods especially for her daughter.
Offer Bring a Dish
Many hostesses are thrilled when guests offer to bring a dish to share with other party goers. Just make sure that you’ve cleared your special dish with your host. For example, some foods that don’t have gluten may look or taste different than a dish with gluten.
Educate Your Child
It’s important for parents to educate their children about their health conditions. Share information with your child as it’s appropriate. Eventually, your child should be responsible enough to figure out which foods she can eat, and which foods she needs to politely decline. My friend’s child is now 15 and she does a great job of this.
Offer an Acceptable Alternative
It’s difficult for teens to constantly have to say no to food, especially at social events. I never realized until recently how many events are geared around food. For example, my daughter’s school hosted an ice cream social recently. My friend’s child has severe allergies to milk and other items contained in the ice cream. Instead of telling her teen that she couldn’t attend, my friend brought “rice cream” to the party. Her daughter was able to eat the dessert as it was made from rice milk. She also brought enough of the treat so that other teens were able to try it!
Do you have any other strategies that you’ve used? Please post and share them with our blog readers.