Just 25 more days till Christmas! If you’re new to the Feingold Diet, you may be wondering how you’re going to pull off the food and all the holiday festivities. Below I’ve listed 5 tips on how we handle these issues and links to some of our favorite Feingold recipes.
- Going to Someone Else’s House for Christmas Dinner.
Tip: Feed your kids before you go. I did this even before we started Feingold because my kids would get so excited at the party that they wouldn’t want to sit down and eat. So, I fill them up right before we go, and then I bring along some snacks and a dessert, as well as some candy just in case we need it.
If you’re having a nice sit down dinner and you really want to bring your own full meal, just ask the host family ahead of time what they are serving, and then try to bring something similar. We’ve done this before as well. I just explain that my kids have allergies. No need to go into full detail. Sometimes they will ask. Don’t answer. Sometimes very well-intentioned people will try to go out of their way to meet your dietary requirements (which is a very nice gesture), but unless they are Feingold members, it’s almost impossible to ensure that they are going to meet all of your kids’ dietary restrictions. To me, it’s not worth the risk of a reaction.
If you’re able to host the Christmas dinner at your house you will have more control over the food. I often will make a ham from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, or a pot roast for my kids, Immaculate Baking crescent rolls, Glutino stuffing (Glutino won’t work with Feingold but we use them without a problem), mashed potatoes, sometimes Annie’s mac-n-cheese, green beans or broccoli, and a triple berry and apple pie for dessert (we can do stage 2 in moderation). I make enough food for my kids and then there’s some left over for anyone else who wants some. My mom takes care of the rest of the food for everyone else or I ask people to bring a dish to share.
- Class Parties
Tip: E-mail the teacher and the class room mom to find out what they are planning to serve at the party food-wise, or any edible crafts they plan on making. I don’t worry anymore about trying to match everything perfectly. If there’s a long list of food items they are having, I just send in something that I know my child likes which is often a homemade cupcake, sugar cookie, or donut.
Last year the kids in my son’s class were having bagels and cream cheese and my son is gluten and dairy free (GFCF). He doesn’t care for the GFCF substitutes so I just sent him in an approved GFCF powdered donut instead. He was happy. Of course there were a few, “Hey, why does he get a donut?” comments from his classmates, but my son just smiled and happily ate his donut. (Katz donuts have not been researched by Feingold yet).
They also had hot chocolate with marshmallows so I put some homemade hot chocolate in a thermos for my son and sent that in along with a small baggie of Dandies mini marshmallows. If you can arrange to attend the class parties, that’s even better, but not necessary. If the class is making a craft using food items, I usually let my kids make the craft along with the class, but they just don’t eat it. I’ll just send in a treat for them to eat instead.
- The Christmas Stocking
Tip: Focus less on candy and more on small toys or other items in the stocking. I’ve even made up little hand-made gift certificates for my kids which they loved. Some ideas for these are “Get out of jail free” card which lets them out of one punishment. A “Stay up later” card to be used on a weekend. A “Movie with mom” card. A “Dessert” card. Whatever is age-appropriate and you think your kids would like. My kids like to do this for me as well. One year my son wrote me a few cards that said, “Do a chore the first time asked.” Umm….OK. “Free hug” – this was from my teenage son so he knew I would like this and this was a big sacrifice for him!
Other ideas for the stocking – DVD movies, gift cards to Feingold approved restaurants (Chipotle, Subway, Starbucks, Five Guys, etc.) or stores they like. I always put some dollar bills in my kids’ stockings too. One year I gave them each a roll of toilet paper. They loved it! I let them TP the house! On one condition – they had to pick it up when they were done, which they did.
And for candy, there is a lot of Feingold approved candy to choose from. Check out my “Candy and Gum” Pinterest board for ideas. My kids like Lovely fruit chews and caramels, Glee gum, TruJoy candy canes, Surf Sweet gummy worms and bears, YumEarth suckers, Justin’s or Wal-Mart’s Great Value peanut butter cups, and Unreal candy (If you can find it. Seems to only be in certain areas of the country right now).
Then I also make homemade chocolate goodies like chocolate covered marshmallows, chocolate lollipops, or chocolate covered pretzels or potato chips. Very easy to make. I have to keep the chocolate in the fridge so I take these out in the morning right before they wake up, or else I just sneak them into their stockings while they are opening presents.
If you are Feingold Stage 1, you’ll want to stick to mostly chocolate or lemon flavored candy. We used to order lemon balls and lemon candy canes or sticks from Giambri’s Candy at www.giambriscandy.com. Squirrel’s Nest is another good online candy maker that sells Feingold approved candy, and they list what is stage one and stage two.
- Holiday Festivities
Tip: Many of the Christmas festivities like driving around looking at Christmas lights or watching a Christmas movie (my kids like Polar Express) include having hot chocolate. We use the recipe on the side of the Hershey’s cocoa box because we are dairy free. If you are not dairy free and don’t want to use this recipe, there are a lot of basic hot chocolate recipes online where you can add powdered milk (use an approved one). Whole Foods also has a couple of approved brands for instant hot chocolate. For marshmallows, you can make your own or use Dandies or Elyon brand. Dandies are delicious (and my weakness!) and do not have corn syrup like Elyon’s. Both can be found at Whole Foods or the health food store. In the Midwest, they also have these marshmallows at Woodman’s.
Building a Gingerbread house. I buy a regular Gingerbread house kit and let my kids build it and decorate it. They know they’re not going to eat it but they have fun putting it together. Then we make sugar cookies or GFCF gingerbread cookies (from the cookbook, “Cooking for Isaiah”) and cut them out into the shape of Gingerbread men and then decorate them with frosting and Feingold approved candy like Surf Sweet jelly beans, and have a Gingy Hunt! My kids love this! I make up notes from “Gingy” and they have to follow the clues to find out where he’s hiding. When they find the plate of Gingerbread man cookies, they can eat theirs.
- Dealing with Unsupportive Relatives
Tip: Ignore them. 🙂 Be strong and remember that you are your child’s parent, not them. Don’t feel like you need to explain why your child does this diet (unless you really want to). I’ve learned to stay away from this topic and it makes for a much more peaceful family gathering. My oldest is Feingold only and my other three kids have food allergies. I’m not afraid to say that all of my kids have allergies, including my Feingolder. I don’t feel I need to explain it beyond that. To me, an allergy is when my child reacts to something they’ve eaten. It doesn’t matter that it is dyes they’ve eaten, and my child will react by going off the wall and having meltdowns for the next two days. In most cases, you’re not going to win over unsympathetic family members, so I don’t even try.
There you have it! Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful Christmas season, making lots of a fun, family memories!
Author of “All Natural Mom’s Guide to the Feingold Diet” available on Amazon.
Blogging about the Feingold Diet and all things natural at www.allnaturalmomof4.com.
For more information on the Feingold Diet, go to www.feingold.org.
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