By contributing writer Janelle
With the holidays comes ample opportunity for frustration when you’re living gluten-free, especially when there are gluten-free kids involved. With the holidays come the parties and family gatherings, and with family gatherings, of course comes food! There’s nothing quite like walking into someone else’s home to find tables spread out with food, most of which your child will not be able to touch.
My daughter is 9 now, and is going through the “I wish I could have gluten” stage. Since her diagnosis at age 3, she really has given us very little problem, other than occasional tears. I tried for a long time to make her a gluten-free “duplicate” for every possible item she might encounter, in order to ease the disappointment.
However, that type of measure is really not sustainable, nor will she want to carry it into adulthood. So while I still make her special goodies, I don’t go to those extreme lengths anymore.
Now, Kayla voices her frustration quite loudly. She is most definitely not pleased that she is “missing out.” She tries, but I think as she has gotten older, things have gotten harder to explain to friends at school, and she is just in that stage right now where “it’s not fair!” Can anyone relate???
It is also not helpful when she has a little sister who is not a celiac and therefore still periodically eats gluten. In our household we eat mainly gluten-free, but Hannah is allowed to have gluten when we go out (there’s really no reason not to since it doesn’t seem to affect her negatively), and that is especially hard for Kayla. Because it isn’t fair!
Every time we go out, I try to make sure that Kayla doesn’t go with an empty stomach, unless we are bringing a main dish that I know she can have. I also always try to take a special treat that I know she will love. And of course, when we arrive, I take some preparatory time to talk over which items are gluten-free, read labels, and check for any possible contamination.
In addition, I get her to help as much as possible in preparing foods to take along. Getting gluten-free kids involved teaches them valuable skills such as planning, cooking and baking.
We are very fortunate to have understanding family members who have taken the time to educate themselves about celiac disease, and often Kayla will be surprised by someone taking the time to make sure something is okay for her to eat.
This is a huge blessing for us, and we are so thankful. However, I realize that most people do not have this, and the holidays afford even more of an opportunity than usual for explaining and sometimes even defending reasons for our dietary differences.
How do you handle the holidays when it comes to family functions that involve food?
Janelle is mom to 2 sweet girls, one of whom is celiac, and the other showing signs of gluten intolerance.