Friend of Swaddle and mom of two, Elizabeth Wood, is here to help us navigate the holidays when food allergies or dietary restrictions can be especially difficult. Elizabeth is the owner and gluten free baker extraordinaire at Consider It Joy Bakery in Bluff Park.
Halloween is over, the jack-o-lanterns are put away–or if you’re like me, your to-do list contains “take down Halloween decorations”. Regardless, the day after Halloween begins the official entry into the holiday season. For many of us, holidays revolve around food, friends and family–a lovely tradition, but one that can be stressful to those whose children deal with food allergies or intolerances. As a mother who made drastic changes to our family’s diet in order to address health problems in my children, I’d like to offer some tips on navigating the upcoming treat-filled holiday season.
1. Be prepared for last minute parties/treats! If you have a child in school or in any sort of childcare environment, you know that food shows up in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons in the classroom! Birthday celebrations, holidays, even in the form of lessons (I once had a teacher who used oreos, graham crackers, and pretzel sticks in a lesson about ramps and levers)–food is everywhere, and it can be very disappointing for a child to feel left out when his peers are enjoying a treat. We keep a treat bag in each of our children’s classrooms for occasions such as this, that rise up out of nowhere. We stock a gallon Ziploc bag with non-perishable treats like raisins, popcorn, beef jerky, all natural gummy worms, etc. I have some customers who buy cupcakes from Consider it Joy by the dozen or 4-pack and freeze them at their child’s school, so that the teacher can easily grab one if/when needed. If your child has a favorite allergy friendly treat that they enjoy for parties, consider keeping some frozen at their school and in your home for last minute functions.
2. If you are hosting an event, there is so much you can to do make a child dealing with allergies feel welcome. Consider making a note on the invitation that anyone with dietary restrictions should contact you beforehand. That way you can plan to offer some items that will be safe for everyone. If the child is gluten-free, don’t feel like you have to ditch your cake, but it would be nice to offer to pick up a special treat for them. Ask the parent if there is a particular item that would be appropriate and that the child prefers. If a child is dealing with multiple allergies or if any are life threatening, it is likely that the parent will feel safer providing the snack, but your willingness to help will certainly be noted! If you do have an attendee with multiple dietary concerns and you would like to offer something for them, you can always call us at Consider it Joy Baking. We are very transparent with our ingredients and are happy to help whenever we can!
3. If you plan to offer small gifts or party favors to a group of children, consider items like colored pencils, small books or toys. It is very hard for a small child to have to throw away a treasured party favor because the treats it contains are unsafe for him.
4. Lastly, remember that many of us whose children deal with allergies, choose to bring our own food to events. Please remember that this isn’t an act of judgment on what you are serving. More than likely this child won’t want any extra attention brought to the fact that they are eating something different. If this occurs at a party you are hosting, perhaps make a mental note to check in with this family later to see how you may be able to help next time.
Ultimately, the holidays are about friends, family and time spent together. While food is a wonderful bonus, it certainly doesn’t have to be the main event. Being accepting of all children, and going the extra mile to offer them food that keeps them safe and healthy is the greatest gift you can give to any family that deals with food allergies.
Consider it Joy Baking is a gluten/grain/dairy-free kitchen located in the heart of Bluff Park. Whether you follow a special diet or just enjoy a real food lifestyle, there is something for everyone at Consider it Joy. Stop in today to see how delicious grain-free can be!
Owner and Baker at Consider it Joy Baking