Do you have a child who has food allergies?
My 4th child is allergic to eggs, wheat, tree nut and peanut as well as coconut and barley – whew! That’s quite a list. Now, three years after his food allergy diagnosis, keeping him fed and happy is easy. But…
…he’s reached an age when he feels left out when he can’t eat something other kids are eating. He’s tired of hearing, “I’m sorry, you can’t eat that. It will make you sick.”
I don’t blame him one bit. It stinks that he can’t eat so many things that the rest of us take for granted. So, we work very hard to make food as normal as possible for him while still keeping his diet safe and healthy for him.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gluten-Free Cheerios™ .
Here are 10 tips to help a kid with food allergies feel included
1. Don’t make a big deal about it
This is the most important tip. No matter what your child’s diet, don’t turn it into a pity party. His restrictions may be tough. He may not like it, but turning him into a victim won’t help. Instead, sympathize with him, but don’t overdo it.
2. Master a few special allergy-friendly recipes
Your food allergy learning curve may be steep! I was initially overwhelmed by having to cook for my babe without eggs, wheat, and nuts (and dairy which he can now tolerate – thank you, Lord!).
Over time, I developed a repertoire of simple allergy-friendly desserts (like egg-free banana pudding and gluten-free chocolate cookies) for my son. If he needs a dessert or a quick snack, I have some easy options and he won’t be left out.
3. Carry portable snacks at all times!
You don’t want to be caught out of the house without an allergy-friendly snack. I was so excited to learn that General Mills now makes a whole line of gluten-free Cheerios! I keep a snack-container of gluten-free Cheerios™ in my purse for those emergency snack needs.
4. Show solidarity with your allergic child.
When eating a meal with my son, I try eat what he eats. He doesn’t feel quite so left out, even though his brothers may be eating something different. We also will often choose a dessert my son can eat for the whole family.
5. Always, always be prepared for food related events with portable snack food or a small cooler.
I never assume that allergy-friendly food will be available for my boy. If he can eat some of the food being served, it’s an unexpected bonus, but if not, we are prepared.
6. Seek out restaurants that have food your child can eat.
We’ve identified several local restaurants that we know have safe food for my son.
7. Find other ways to make him feel loved and special.
Although a cookie is an easy reward for a special achievement, food isn’t the only reward. Other special rewards might be a trip to the playground, getting to stay up late or an extra story at bedtime.
8. Discuss allergy requirements with other caregivers out if your child’s hearing.
There’s no reason to make him feel more self-conscious.
9. If other kids ask questions about your child’s food allergies, answer them with simple, straightforward language.
I often tell kids that my son can’t eat certain things because they make him itch. I keep it casual and set the mood that it’s not a big deal. Kids will be kinder if they understand the situation.
10. Remind him of his progress.
If he’s outgrown some food allergies, he may love to hear the story of how things were before. I love to tell my son about when he couldn’t eat corn or milk. We talk about how nice it is that he can now enjoy those foods. These discussions put things in perspective for him.
It’s amazing to me that my son can eat Cheerios!
It was a bit surreal to see him dig into his first bowl. That rite of passage for so many babies never happened for my little guy. But now he can join his brothers in enjoying a yummy bowl of Cheerios any time he wants. His favorite flavor is frosted (who can blame him?)
The neat thing is that the gluten-free flavors taste just like the regular ones!
My big kids were all jockeying for their share of the Cheerios. Another plus is that the gluten-free Cheerios are priced the same as the regular boxes! So if some of your family avoids wheat or gluten, there’s no need to buy separate boxes.
The story behind gluten-free Cheerios is amazing!
A General Mills engineer learned that his daughter-in-law had celiac disease and set off on a six year mission to make Cheerios gluten-free.
You can find Gluten-Free Cheerios by looking for the Gluten-Free seal on packaging. They should be available in stores this month! General Mills has a FAQ about this new line to answer your questions.
Thanks so much to Gluten-free Cheerios for sponsoring this post!