Many of us associate a birthday hangover as something that adults experience after drinking too much at a party the night before. However, when you have a child that has celiac disease or a gluten/dairy allergy it takes on another meaning. They see their friends eating birthday cake, treats, candy in party favor bags and often pizza and they can’t participate. Yes, we do our best to bring gluten free and allergy friendly treats so that our children have something yummy to eat, but it’s not the same as being part of the group. So, often times, the next day we see sadness, low self esteem due to feeling left out or different – what we have come to call the “birthday party hangover”.
Let me first say, it’s totally normal for your child to experience these feelings. Second, even with these feelings our daughter always wants to go to birthday parties to see her friends and celebrate. So, since our daughter loves parties and we want her to be able to participate as much as possible, we’ve developed some strategies that I hope will help you too.
Before the Party
Call the parent hosting the party to find out as much about the food being served as possible so that you can bring similar safe treats for your little one.
Birthday Party Hangover Cure
In four words – fun in the kitchen! It is so important for your child to have a positive relationship with food – it reduces stigma, anxiety, and depression. So, the next day to combat the hangover, get your child in the kitchen and make something together.
Was there something that he/she saw at the birthday party that they want to try? Perfect, make that. Or if not, is there something that they’ve been talking about a lot (i.e. donuts, chocolate, cookies) that you know they would enjoy? In our experience, making it dessert related is the way to go, but pizza is a big hit too. Let your child get messy, let him/her really get involved in the preparation and of course the eating once it’s ready. Make it fun, play music, get matching aprons, etc. so that it becomes an exciting tradition in your house.
Having fun in the kitchen not only distracts them from feeling blue, but it also shows them that they don’t have to live WITHOUT. It teaches them that they can have those things too, just prepared differently so that it’s safe for them to eat. This will also assist with opening up communication lines so that they tell you if someone else’s snack or lunch at school looked good, and hopefully reduce snack sharing.