I’m not gonna lie, I feel bad for the kids out there with celiac disease. Because celiac is genetic, I technically had celiac disease my whole life, but because I wasn’t diagnosed until recently I was able to go through my childhood without knowing I had this disorder.
One thing I hear from a lot of parents of GF kids is what a pain it is for them at birthday parties, sleepovers, etc. Do me a favor and think about every party you went to as a kid…what did you eat? Pizza and cake. What are these full of? Gluten. So these kids either have to bring their own food (lame) or eat later (super lame). Most of the fun of these parties is eating junk food with your friends, and if mom packed you carrot sticks or cheese and gluten free crackers…you don’t feel like part of the party. And, then the kids at the party are bringing attention to the diet of the “weird kid that won’t eat pizza” or the parents are trying to be helpful, but just embarassing the kid by making sure everyone knows not to touch So-and-so’s food. Being a kid is hard enough without having a hard time at parties.
So, what can be done? First, I think that it is nice if the mom of GF kid (previously referred to as “So-and-so”) can reach out to the party planning parent on the side to discuss gluten free options for food. Often, there are some easy changes that can be made in advance so the other kids wouldn’t even notice (like making sure the ranch dip and chips are all gluten free options and there is at least one gluten free candy around – there are plenty). The GF kid would then know that “all chips, dips and this candy” are safe for them to eat. If party hosting parent is planning on pizza, they could order gluten free from Garlic Jim’s (see my previous post) but this can be much more expensive than the typical $5 pizzas that frequent birthday parties. Or, some parties let kids make their own pizzas – there are several options for ready made GF crust (including Udi’s) which I have had before and liked (hubby did too – important). So this could just be the crust for all the kids to use, which means no big ordeal about So-and-so’s “special” crust. There are also options for GF hot dog and hamburger buns, cake mix, ready made cupcakes, cookies, brownies, pretzels and much more.
In short, most parents throwing parties are reasonable (although stressed) and would prefer to know about allergies and things BEFORE they go shopping and/or the party starts. They want the party to go smoothly and for everyone to have a good time. Worst case scenario, GF kid could have to bring their own options to a few parties, but hopefully they can have accommodations made most of the time.
Have you tried anything with your GF kid that worked? Anything that didn’t? Do you have tips for the rest of us?