When children with neurodevelopmental disorders or other chronic health conditions are found to be allergic or sensitive to products with gluten or casein, maintaining a special diet can be a real challenge.
Birthday parties, holiday gatherings and other special events are particularly difficult times to maintain having gluten free dairy free holiday treats.
What do you serve at your holiday gathering? What should your child eat when invited elsewhere? Should you pack special food or hope that there will be suitable alternatives?
Here are some helpful hints gleaned from a number of resources, listed below.
Avoid the Urge to Serve Gluten Free Dairy Free Holiday Treats to Everyone
Many children, since they are used to eating foods made with wheat, find the texture of even the finest gluten-free products “off’ and refuse to eat them.
You may thus end up throwing away almost everything.
For a holiday party or other event including a cake or dessert, bake and decorate a small gluten-free cake for your child.
Even a plain, 8-inch round cake can become spectacular with the right decorations.
Serve a similarly decorated cake to your guests.
Fill decorated cellophane bags with small toys instead of edibles.
If you must include food, use well-accepted snacks that are gluten or dairy free, such as popcorn balls.
Don’t be afraid to take advantage of parties offered by such places as Discovery Zone and Chuck E. Cheese.
The former allows the movement we want our children to have and both will gladly heat up and serve special products, such as rice crust pizza.
The good thing about parties in these locations is that the food plays second fiddle to the fun and games.
Other Children’s Parties
Never hesitate to send your child to another child’s party; your child’s special needs can usually be easily managed if you speak with the hostess beforehand.
Find out what food will be served, and then, if necessary, prepare something for your child to take or deliver early.
Make your child aware from an early age, what foods should and should not be eaten.
Children can quickly adapt to the idea that their food is “special” and look forward to the party separate from the food.
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas
Because of the variety of foods available at gatherings in honor of these holidays, they tend not to be as problematic as birthdays.
A great cookbook with gluten- and dairy-free recipes for holidays is Gluten-Free Celebrations by Carol Fenster.
It includes appetizers, breads, main dishes and desserts for Easter, Passover and Valentine’s Day.
Pre-Packaged Mixes and Products
It is always safer to make foods yourself, but sometimes there just isn’t time.
Many grocery stores these days carry mixes and products for gluten free dairy free holiday treats; just be sure to read the labels carefully as many contain artificial colors and preservatives, as well as high amounts of sugar.