Keeping the Kids Gluten and Dairy-Free During the Holidays

If you have children that are lactose intolerant (and if the kids are human, they are) or have Celiac disease, the need to be vigilant about not allowing dairy or gluten to pass their lips becomes significantly higher compared to kids who are Paleo because their parents simply want their diet to be healthier than the Standard American approach.

In other words, if you and your family are Paleo and the little ones do not have the health issues mentioned above, if they were to occasionally eat a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party, the effects would not be anywhere as dire.

So what is a parent to do during the holidays when dealing with friends or family members who simply don’t understand the magnetite of these conditions and think you’re being silly, overreacting or dramatic and insist on giving cakes, cookies and candies to your little ones?

Following are some strategies that my clients who are moms and dads have found to be effective in just these type of situations:

  • Host a completely Paleo event and invite family members and/or friends in order to show them what the eating approach really is, to allow them to see that you’re not just feeding your two year old raw meat on the bone.
  • Call ahead and speak to the host/hostess of the event and explain that your kids have medical conditions which makes them physically unable to eat said foods.  Offer to share websites or literature for further ‘proof’.
  • Educate your kids on why they need to be very careful of not eating specific foods but present it in a positive way.  Rather than saying, “you will never be able to eat ice cream, cake or cookies like your friend so”, you can explain that there are other, more tasty and more healthful foods that they can enjoy which will make them strong and healthy. Don’t underestimate your kids ability to understand their health concerns, either.  I met a little boy recently at a cafe who was three and who approached me at my table, asked if there was cheese in my salad and then told me he was going to ask his mom to order the same thing since he couldn’t eat dairy, once I assured him it was cheese-free.
  • Arrange a kids’ holiday party and make it pro-active.  Have the little ones engage in making your choice of Paleo friendly holiday treats, like baked apples with cinnamon sticks, homemade seasonal fruit sorbet and banana-egg-spiced ‘cookies.  Casually chat with the parents while the kids get busy in the kitchen!
  • If it comes down to it, don’t be afraid to be a bit more assertive than you might typically be.  Your kids health is at stake and if it takes you being firm with friends or relatives who are completely missing the boat, so be it.

The holidays will be far happier and healthier if you’re not having to rush your kids to the doctor’s office after being ‘glutened’ or ‘dairyed!’