November 30, 2022
Dr. Sonja Burmeister, Food Allergy Mom, Doctorate and Professor of Occupational Therapy specializing in Pediatrics, Physicians Assistant, Certified in Early Intervention (OTD, MSPA-C, OTR/L, EICP-OT)
Children with food allergies experience the holidays differently than children without food allergies. Holiday gatherings are often centered around food, as mealtime brings family members together. A child suffering from food allergies may feel left out or isolated during holiday events. Often times children with food allergies feel singled out, or “different” than their relatives and loved ones, because they cannot consume the food that is being offered to others, or try foods that others have brought into their home.
So how can we help?
- We can set expectations for our guests, even if they are family
By letting guests know in advance that all food will be provided by you, the host, you eliminate the need to alienate your child and your worry surrounding mealtime. I know this may seem like a large burden, but you can structure a reasonable meal based on the number of guests and perhaps choose to leave the over indulging to the holiday presents.
- Serve your child’s favorite (and allergy safe) food at the “kids” table
Whoever said you can’t have cauliflower pizza crust /daily free pizza, or just plain old pizza if no one is allergic? Have fun with the children’s meal; make a design out of the food items you offer such as “train wheel” wraps or smiley face vegetables. Why not have breakfast for dinner? Getting creative with your options during a special holiday meal can serve as a theme or set the stage for fun activities for all to enjoy together at your holiday gathering.
- If you feel comfortable allowing others to prepare allergy safe food, involve your guests, so they feel they are contributing too
Part of the enjoyment of holidays is the act of giving. By including your family in creating a menu with allergy friendly meal choices, you allow them the opportunity to share their talents and preferences. Having them offer their favorite recipes or contribute their favorite allergy friendly meal offers a sense of community and caring.
Whatever this holiday brings for you and your family this holiday season, we at MyHealthcareKit wish you health, happiness and love!