The hardest part of Easter for most people with kids on special diets is all that candy, and the fun events built around it!
The Easter Basket
This is the easiest part of the onslaught to deal with, because you can make your own children’s baskets full of safe treats and non-food toys or stuffed animals. There are a lot of gluten-free options and dairy free candy options available in familiar brands, but not a whole lot of sugar, food coloring, or corn free candies. Natural Candy Store is a good on-line resource for candies that work for various special diets. They code all their candy and publish the full ingredient lists.Note: Use these lists as a place to start only! The ingredients and processing facility can vary with different sizes of packages, countries they are sold in, or batches! Always read the label and call the manufacturer yourself to make sure a product meets your needs, even if another version of the same product has been safe for you in the past!
Our family is on the GAPS diet and so none of those processed candies available on the market work for us. I’m looking forward to trying to make my own gelatin GAPS Gummis in various flavors! Cupcakes and fresh fruit could work well in a basket, too. Before holidays I like to hold off on a fruit that the kids love, then have the holiday be the first time we have it for the year. Strawberries could be a good one to wait on for Easter! (Although they’re actually not yet in season here in Portland).
If you’ll be seeing friends or family who might be planning on giving Easter baskets, make sure you check in with them. You can provide safe treats or make suggestions that will work.
The Easter Egg HuntIf you are doing your own Easter egg hunt, again, you can just hide things that work for your kids. If they are allergic to eggs, you can use plastic eggs or better yet, painted wooden eggs. In our area, there is usually an annual thunderegg hunt where the Mt. Hood Rock Club hides polished rocks for the kids to find. This year their venue fell through, but hopefully it will be back on again next year. It might be possible to get a similar event going where you are!
If your kids have their hearts set on participating in a larger Easter egg hunt with community, friends, or extended family, that you are not in control over, you’ll want to have a plan of action for that. As with Halloween, there are a few different ways to approach the candy your kids will invariably get at this sort of event.
- If your children have life-threatening allergies or an autoimmune issue, you may not want them anywhere near some of the candies or eggs. In this case, they may enjoy being helpers for other children, pointing to the things they find.
- If the allergies are not that severe, your kids may enjoy finding treats to fill their basket, then sorting through for the things they can keep and trading the rest with other kids.
- You can bring your own treats to trade with your kids after the hunt.
Whatever strategy you decide on, make sure to talk with your kids about it and choose the one that they are happiest and most able to cooperate with. If your child really can’t deal with seeing the other kids eat things they can not have, skipping it might make sense. But don’t discount the importance of a shared experience. My kids went trick or treating last year, knowing full well that they wouldn’t be eating a single candy. They wanted the fun of dressing up and getting to prowl the streets after dark all by themselves, seeing who could get the most candy! The same goes for an Easter egg hunt. It doesn’t have to be all about the candy.
In general, I don’t think making exceptions is a good idea, because:
- Other people will stop taking your dietary restrictions seriously if they see you “cheating” for special occasions.
- The kids might get confused about the importance of sticking to their dietary restrictions.
- It gets harder to stick to a restriction when you sometimes allow “just a little.”
But, if some of your restrictions are more critical than others, you may be able to relax on the things that aren’t such a big deal. For example, we never, ever have gluten, but after being on the GAPS diet for over a year, we sometimes have coconut milk that contains guar gum, which is not GAPS legal. This is the case all the time, not just on special occasions. Never try to make decisions about how important your dietary restrictions are during an event. Instead, when you decide to do a special diet in the first place (and as you heal and get to know your body better), come up with general guidelines you can apply when a question comes up. The more consistent you can be, the better!
Happy Easter, everyone! We’d love to hear how it goes for you this year!
This post is part of Freaky Friday.