Whether you’re heading to the park, a friend’s house or a birthday party, there are plenty of opportunities for a hungry gluten-free kid to run you into a spot of bother. Here are my Top 5 tips for surviving the out-and-about experience with your gluten-free cherub.
1. Be organised – If you’ve been invited out for a party, meal or playdate, make sure you’re organised. Call ahead, speak to your host about your child’s needs, know what’s likely to be served and know the gluten-free alternatives so that you can cater for your child. Always have a bit of extra food on hand, just in case your child is extra hungry, or something unforseen happens (such as the dog running off with the food!). I take a packet of gluten-free rice crackers wherever we go.
2. Don’t expect others to cater for your child – if you don’t have any expectations, you won’t be disappointed if there isn’t any, or isn’t much, gluten-free food for your child. If others find it easy to have your child as a guest, then there’s a good chance your child will be invited again. So if you supply all the gluten-free food for your child, you relieve your host of the stress of having to come up with something special. It also saves you the embarrassment of having to interrogate your host about the ingredients, how was the food prepared, et cetera. In other words, if you cater for your child, everyone wins.
3. Talk to your child in advance about what food will be there, and what are the gluten-free options. So many problems can be dealt with in this short conversation. You can manage your child’s expectations and come up with alternatives in advance about their food choices. This talk is always a top priority for me, especially when we’re off to a birthday party.
4. Encourage your child to ask “is it gluten-free?” When my Little Coeliac was first diagnosed at age 4 and a half, many grown-ups were quite taken aback when such a little girl asked this question. Now she’s a bit bigger, it’s not such a shock to people. It is, however, a valuable life skill for her and it will be the same for every gluten-free kid. They have to be able to take ownership of their condition as soon as possible and the ability to ask this question is one of the first vital steps.
5. Be polite and grateful for whatever effort is made for your child. For many people, hosting a child with a food issue is daunting and anything we parents can do to lessen that feeling will help our gluten-free kids. So even if the effort lies in the invitation alone, that’s enough to warrant your gratitude!
Do you have any tips you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment.