Those of you who follow me on Instagram, or have read one of my articles, will know how important inclusivity is for me. One of the main things for me, as a parent of children who are allergic to gluten, is to ensure that they never feel left out or that they are different to their friends. So, I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to join Asda’s Christmas inclusivity project this month and really impressed with the work they have done so far (as I am sure you will be too). Take a look at the Asda Good Living website where you will find heaps of information to make managing allergies easier for us parents. It’s such a fantastic idea and most definitely needed.
With Christmas on the horizon, food is at the forefront of everyone’s mind and, there are loads of things that can help you if this is your first Christmas catering for allergies. I certainly remember how daunting it can be to navigate all those parties, get togethers and (most importantly) Christmas day itself, but with a bit of planning I promise it can be both enjoyable and not to mention-tasty. So, without further ado, here are my top tips for making your Christmas as inclusive as possible.
Consider hosting Christmas yourself…
and take the stress out of Christmas day. Yes, you did hear me correctly! By hosting Christmas yourself you will be able to provide an entirely gluten-free meal without worrying. You will know exactly what is in the food you provide and allow your family to feel included by eating what everyone else is. You will be surprised to see that your guests are so busy enjoying themselves that they don’t even notice that what they are eating is gluten free anyway!
Do your research
If you do plan to host Christmas yourself, write a list of everything you plan to serve. Keep your eyes open for gluten- free recipes and stock up on the ingredients you need. There are loads of ideas in magazines and on the internet. Try keeping a file of your favourites. But remember that you don’t have to create everything from scratch unless you want to. Ask the family what they would like to have and see what they can do to help at the same time. Children love to make things such as mince pies and biscuits, so get them involved.
Going elsewhere? Not a problem, just let your hosts know about your child’s requirements
Out of politeness, do this well in advance to allow them time to prepare. You will probably find that some hosts will know exactly what to do (our extended family fall into either the coeliac or well-practised category!) and provide everything your child could possibly dream of, or they might need a bit of advice or assistance. I also like to pop some bits such as biscuits or sweets in the car or my handbag for the kids just in case. There are still times when we get caught out and having that security blanket does bring peace of mind, allowing you all to relax and enjoy the day.
Offer to bring a dish
Do you have a great trifle recipe? Or maybe you’re a dab hand at baking. Bringing a dish is often well-received. Your host will be grateful to have one less thing to think about and you can rest in the knowledge that there is something ready for your child to have. Double parenting points are earned if you let your child chose their favourite (especially if it’s a dessert). And don’t forget bread or cheese biscuits if you are attending an event where a buffet is provided.
Stock up on free-from items well in advance.
Last year saw a huge increase in the Christmas free-from range and Asda’s range is brilliant yet again. Yet whilst there is more availability, there’s nothing worse than trying to find an item you have taken a fancy to and finding that the supermarket has sold out. Be aware that any new items will sell quickly as people are always curious to try new offerings. If an item has a longer shelf-life, buy these items early and avoid spending an inordinate amount of time searching for a reindeer Christmas cake, as we did last year.