GFCF and Birthday Parties

March 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Birthday Parties, GFCF, Mixes | 1 Comment
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By Shannon Penrod

Birthday parties!  It’s enough to  make any parent of a child on a special diet run for cover.  When your kid is GFCF it can make you want to run into the street screaming with your hair on fire! 

If you’re willing to let go of some of your “preconcieved notions of birthday party fun” you can actually negotiate the dietary restriction thing easily and enjoy yourself at the party  – and your kid can have a good time too!

The first step is to have a plan.  This is SOOOO important.  Talk to the parent throwing the party and ask what they are planning on serving.  I go to a lot of kid’s birthday parties and the menus are fairly limited.  Usually it’s pizza, hot dogs, corn dogs, chicken nuggets or hamburgers for the meal. topped off with cake and or ice cream for dessert.  Often there is a Pinata full of candy.  Sometimes there are chips, veggies, salsa, fruit and occasionally a salad.  Most of which my kid can’t have.

I always pack as if there is going to be NOTHING for my child to eat. And I always tell the host/hostess that I will be bringing his food.  It saves everyone time and worry.  Ultimately it prevents dietary accidents too!

100_52861I try to take something similar to what they are serving – today I am going to a pizza party so I am taking his pizza. (Namaste pizza crust with broccoli, carrots, peppers and Shelton’s turkey hot dogs, sometimes I put shredded beets on now that Jem doesn’t have tomatoes anymore.)

If they are having hot dogs, I precook some Shelton’s hot dogs, chicken nuggets I make GFCF nuggets by coating sliced chicken with the pizza crust mix.  Corn dogs I coat the cooked dogs with pizza crust and either bake or fry them. 

They make and sell GFCF corn dogs and chicken nuggets but they all have either sugar, corn, potato or soy – none of which Jem can eat.

100_5289For a cake subtitute I take a birthday cookie.  This is made from GFCF pancakes, which are stacked and cut into a shape.  I have cookie cutters for every occasion that do this trick.  I put the “cookie” in a festive cupcake wrapper so it looks special.

Over the years Jem’s diet has changed so much, and the plan has had to change as well.  I used to take a bag of GFCF pretzels and a bag of grapes with me to every party – when they were cut from his diet I had to have a new plan.  For the most part Jem knows what he can’t have, although he is much more vocal about not having sugar than he is about not having gluten, or milk.  Sugar actually comes up more often with all the candy that is freely offered to children.

I try whenever possible, and it isn’t always possible, to think ahead.  Its so much easier to make his birthday party food when the present is already wrapped and the card is already signed.  Hectic makes me resentful.  If on the morning of the party I have to wrap the present get him to sign the card and get his food ready I start resenting everyone who doesn’t have to pack a GFCF pizza in their purse. I try not to go there by thinking ahead.

Lastly, I always, always, always take water to a party.  I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten to a party and all they had was juice, soda and or milk.

A word about mental preperation… when children ask why my son is eating different food I tell them he can’t eat their food, that it makes him sick.  Usually the will say, “Like an allergy?” and I say, “Yes, just like an allergy.”  

When an adult asks me, I tell them that if my son eats those foods he literally looses the ability to communicate– sometimes for days.  For my child this is true.  It stops the conversation and I no longer have to justify myself.

Jem loves going to birthday parties.  He loves to look at the cake and I usually let him take a picture of it with my camera.  He loves to watch the kids eat it and asks to see what color it turns their tongues.  He does this while he happily noshes on his birthday cookie.  He does notice that his food is different, and that is a wonderful thing for a boy recovering from autism.  He will sometimes even ask the kids what their food tastes like. 

I could waste time feeling sad about it, instead I rejoice in the language he uses and the glorious, glorious questions he asks.  And the fact that when the meal is over he skips off to play with his friends.  That makes it all worthwhile!

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  1. Oh my goodness, you are an inspiration to a weary mother of five children, three on the spectrum, but only one that is sensitive to foods. This is a recent discovery about my 18year old’s gluten and caesin intolerance. We are still trying to navigate through teenage years with his special dietary needs.I appreciate your attitude and smile at how significant we recently learned what you eat makes a big difference. Thanks for this blog spot and all your ideas. I admire your ambition and am preparing for my first grandbaby. Hopefully he doesn’t have the same problems but I do want to keep learning. Thanks


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