Celebrating with Food Allergies: Happy Easter!

Celebrating with Food Allergies: Happy Easter!

by Sherri A. Svrcek, MA

At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is they are usually married to each other.  -Ann Landers

It is inevitable. Life will go on, even after a food allergy diagnosis. There will be birthdays to celebrate, Super Bowl Sundays to host, and holidays to maneuver – like Easter, which is fast approaching. You and your family must continue your social life to maintain your sanity. I have found some things that work well for my family, and hopefully you can put them to use in your life. The most important thing to remember is that you have endless choices in approaching these get-togethers. You don’t have to celebrate the way you always have, no matter what anyone else thinks. The sooner you choose to free yourself from the confines of these “shoulds,” the sooner you’ll be able to start enjoying parties again.

Try to focus on non-food activities. Play board games together, watch a movie, play bingo for silly prizes, do crafts, or play wiffle ball or kickball together outside. Kids are usually much more interested in activities than food anyway, so try to keep the activities the center of the party. I never noticed how much our lives revolve around food until my family’s allergies were diagnosed. Food tends to be the center of every celebration and is a huge source of entertainment for almost everyone I know. Trying to change this might feel like swimming upstream (which it is), but if it’s helpful to your family, it’s worth a try.

For an Easter activity, change up the traditional egg hunt to make it safe. Assign each child a particular color of plastic egg and fill your child’s eggs with safe treats. When the children are set free to find their eggs, carefully instruct them to only pick up the eggs of their assigned color. Many times, allergy-safe candy just won’t fit in the usual plastic eggs, so use coins (my son’s favorite) or other small non-food treats like stickers in the eggs and serve the sweets after the hunt instead. To give your usual desserts a new twist, bake them in holiday-themed molds, such as rabbit-shaped ones for Easter.

No matter how you celebrate, keep this in mind: Parties are supposed to be fun. Forgive the insensitivities and eye rolls of the allergy uneducated, be thankful for the good intentions of those who try to understand what your child can eat (even if they fall short), and enjoy the time with your children. Know in your heart that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to protect your child, despite the fact that others might not understand. Be grateful that your child was entrusted to your care and not to someone else’s. Don’t allow an ounce of your energy to be wasted on hurt feelings and anger. Your energy is too precious, and you’re going to need it. Happy Easter, my friends! Hope the bunny is good to you all!

Sherri A. Svrcek, MA, has a master’s degree in counseling. For the past 25 years, she has worked in the counseling field, both as a mental health therapist and a high school guidance counselor. She has a 17-year-old son, Connor, who was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and food allergies. Her transition to avoiding allergens in her family’s diet was the inspiration for writing Welcome to the World of Food Allergies and Intolerances: A Parent’s Handbook ( Svrcek has been happily married to the love of her life, Frank, for the past 24 years.