When planning a birthday party for your child sometimes the needs of
the guests can get lost in the shuffle. This is especially problematic
for children who suffer from food allergies. Without the proper foods
available for them these kids oftentimes feel left out or worse; end up
getting sick because they ate something they shouldn't have. Yet there
are many ways that parents can prepare food choices that are thoughtful
of kids with allergies while also still being healthy and delicious.
Thus all children can have their cake and eat it too.
One out of every 25 kids has food allergies and an even larger number
is undiagnosed. Growing up, I was one of the undiagnosed ones. I have
an intolerance to wheat, and considering how many birthday parties I
attended every year, all those cakes and cookies were actually doing
harm. Yet neither my parents nor I noticed until much later in my life.
The problem with some of the milder allergies like wheat intolerance is
that the damage it is doing is not always obvious. Thus, it is
important that parents remain hyper-vigilant of any symptoms that might
Yet while it may be easy for a parent to spot symptoms in
their own child it is much harder for parents to see signs in other
I remember one birthday party, which occurred when I was about 8 years
old that was indicative of this problem. It was an outdoor barbeque for
over 30 children, and flounder was one of the food items being served.
We were all running around and playing soccer but my friend Jason
seemed sweatier and more flushed then the rest of us. No one really
paid any attention to him, because it was just presumed that he was
just tired from the game. However, he soon began to have trouble
breathing, and the parents who were throwing the party realized
something was wrong. A quick call to Jason's parents revealed that
Jason was allergic to fish and was having a fairly severe allergic
reaction. Jason ended up taking Benadryl and was fine but it could have
been much worse. Clearly Jason's parents clearly should have warned the
hosts about his allergy. Yet, in general it is better to be safe than
sorry, and the hosts should have called all the children's parents to
make sure serving fish was OK.
To see what allergy-minded parents are doing these days I spoke with
Cassie Atlas, who lives with her husband Peter and son David in
Brooklyn. Cassie has thrown a number of health conscious birthday
parties for David. She recommended having an allergy free area at the
table and to put it front and center so kids don't miss it. She stocked
up on all kinds of products for kids with the most common allergies
like peanuts, soy, eggs, and milk. She said that the local health food
store had some snacks and that "Whole Foods had loads of yummy stuff."
And to be on the safe side she "called all the moms just to make sure
none of the children had specific allergies that I should be aware of.
" And it was a good thing she did because one little girl had Celiac
disease, and Cassie was able to get some gluten-free scones just for
her. Cassie says that "everyone had a great time and there were no
Food allergies are a real burden on a lot of people's lives, and they
are especially prevalent among children. Yet through diligence and
thoughtful preparation parents can make sure children are able to
partake in all aspects of a birthday celebration.