As many as 1 in 13 children in America diagnosed with a food allergy. Many more who struggle with feeding issues, including chewing and swallowing, anxiety over meal changes, and diseases like celiac or diabetes.
Even when a child's issues do not result from a medical condition, the way family and friends respond to dietary concerns can make the difference between a comfortable, happy holiday and a situation that puts unnecessary stress on a child.
Some of the most common challenges for families who struggle with food are getting friends and family with:
How to Help
Connecting for Kids families rely on a number of different strategies for dealing with holiday meals, including:
Every culture has some focus on meals. It's how we connect and share with friends and loved ones. It can be hard when a traditional family dish refused, but it's even harder for children who miss these opportunities to connect. When a child or family refuses a food, try to reframe it as a missed opportunity and ask for other ways you can connect with the child.
Learn About Food Allergies
Many families who struggle with food allergies bear the burden of constantly educating friends and family. If you are new to celebrating the holidays with a food allergy, you can find some great information on creating a food allergy safety zone from FARE.
Cross-contamination (when a safe food comes in contact with an allergen) is one of the biggest dangers for kids with food allergies at holiday gatherings. If you are new to celebrating the holidays with a food allergy, you can find some great information on creating a food allergy safety zone from FARE.
Invite Guests to Bring a Safe Dish
Often, extended families want to help a struggling child but just don't have the knowledge to do so safely. By inviting guests to bring a safe dish that everyone can enjoy, you can make children with food allergies feel welcome at the table and show everyone that allergy-friendly foods are nothing to be afraid of.
Back to the Winter Holidays Inclusion Guide.