Holidays and Special Occasions
Food is one of the centerpieces of social gatherings in our culture. That can be challenging when your child is on a limiting diet, such as the gluten- and casein-free diet. Some forethought and planning can make celebrations more joyous for your family.
Birthday and Family Parties
One of the easiest ways to prepare for birthday parties is to bake up a batch of Vanilla or Chocolate Cupcakes and keep them in the freezer. Any time your child has to go to a birthday party, you can thaw one of the cupcakes, frost it, and pack it to go along with your child. That way, when everyone else is enjoying cake, your child can, too.
Once you've explained the reasons for the diet with your family members, many of them might want to help out, too. By sharing favorite gluten- and casein-free recipes with loved ones, you will have a better chance of ensuring there are several safe choices at potluck gatherings.
As mentioned previously, you can also offer to host the celebration or to bring a couple of delicious dishes with you to family parties. Remember, people can only help make things easier for you and your child if you let them know how to help.
Halloween is a holiday that at first glance seems focused primarily on the mass consumption of chocolate and candy. Broaden your view of the holiday to discover many ways to celebrate this spookiest of days gluten-and casein-free. Consider distributing pencils, stickers, tattoos, or inexpensive toys instead of candy to trick-or-treaters. Not only will you not have a lot of forbidden treats around your house, but you will be providing a safe alternative to other children who also have dietary restrictions.
If your child wants to trick or treat, you can make pre-arrangements with neighbors or friends. If you bring them safe goodies for your little trick-or-treater to request, you can help your child safely enjoy the holiday. Spicy Pumpkin Muffins also make a yummy Halloween treat.
Making new traditions can be one of the easier ways to make your holidays inclusive for your child following the gluten- and casein-free diet. For example, making safe cookies is a great way to get ready for the holidays. Making decorations and gifts is another food-free fun activity. Instead of chocolate advent calendars, there are several other nonfood holiday countdown decorations that fulfill the same purpose. Gluten- and casein-free candies can take the place of traditional Hannukah gelt and dreidel games. Look for treats and activities that are consistent with your child's diet to set an inclusive stage for family fun. Chocolate Nut Clusters and Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies might just become new family favorites.
It is easy to control the content of what Valentine's Day festivities look like in your own home. Valentine's cards and little gifts can easily take the place of chocolates and candy. Sending your child to school with safe treats — such as stickers, bookmarks, small puzzles, or bubbles — can help you make sure that your child will not feel left out if off-limits treats are also distributed. Chocolate-Coated Strawberries and Mixed Berry Muffins are great ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with your loved ones.
Most parents want to provide a safe environment for all the children in their child's classroom. You can help these other parents help your child by writing a friendly letter explaining your child's situation. A good letter will help other parents understand why your child is following a special diet and what that diet entails. If you give a couple of suggestions of safe treats that everyone can enjoy, you will likely be pleasantly surprised that many potentially difficult situations will be avoided.
Ask your child's teacher if you can keep a small supply of safe snacks in the classroom for those times when off-limits treats are provided. It is much easier on everyone (especially your child) if you can take precautions that allow all the children to participate in classroom celebrations.