Do you have a gluten-free child who likes slumber parties? Share these tips and strategies with them, to help ensure a fun and safely gluten-free experience.
Who doesn’t like a party that goes on for hours and hours!? Sleepovers are lots of fun, and with just a little planning ahead, being gluten-free doesn’t need to get in the way. If you have been gluten-free for a while, chances are you have already figured out how to stay safely gluten-free while hanging out with friends when food is involved. A sleepover just calls for a little more of the same kind of planning. You will likely have more than just one meal to think about: dinner, breakfast, and lots of snacks in-between are usually part of the plan and part of the fun! Of course, one approach, especially if you’re new to living gluten-free, would be to host the party at your house. This can be a great way to show your friends just how tasty gluten-free food can be; plus what they taste and learn will be bound to make things easier the next time, when the party is at one of their houses.
Communicate and Plan Ahead
As always when going over to someone’s house who is not gluten-free: either you or your parents should communicate with the host’s family as much ahead of time as possible. Let them know that you are really excited about coming, but just need to talk to them a bit about your medical dietary needs. Remember – your friends’ parents and families are going to be glad to help make sure you stay healthy and have a good time.
- Explain the basics on how you need to be gluten-free for your health, and a bit about what foods generally contain gluten.
- Let them know you and your family would be glad to arrange to bring some gluten-free foods for you to have.
- Do they have meal (and snack) ideas in mind yet? Chances are, at this point in the conversation you will all realize that at least some of what is being planned either just is gluten-free, can easily be converted to gluten-free, or that there are good gluten-free versions of the food available, so you can bring and enjoy the same type of food everyone else is having. Pizza on the menu? Let them know you can bring over a frozen GF pizza that they can pop in the oven for you so it is done the same time that delivery arrives. Taco night planned? You may need to just bring your own GF/corn tortillas. You get the idea. It is often pretty simple.
- Avoiding cross-contact. Explain that even tiny amounts of gluten can be a problem, and that you therefore need to be sure not to eat something that has touched a serving spoon that’s touched something with gluten. Let them know that easy ways to solve this are to either have your food served first, and/or to have a small separate serving dish set aside for you.
- Thank your hosts enthusiastically for talking to you and accommodating you. Even if they say they have got all the food taken care of, it can be a really nice thing to bring along a special gluten-free treat for the whole group.
- Not only is this a nice “thank you,” but it helps everyone taste and learn how delicious gluten-free can be!
Day of Party
You have done all your communications and have been told there will be plenty of gluten-free options for you. But, just in case something does not work out as planned, it never hurts to bring along a hearty protein bar or other snack. Just in case.
If you are feeling a bit nervous about the food situation, have a meal before you go, take along a hearty snack, and focus on your friends and other activities. It is not all about the food, after all! If it is your first sleepover since being gluten-free, just being there and having a good time will make you feel more comfortable about going the next time.
There may be a table of snacks set up: some gluten-free, some not. You don’t want gluten-containing crumbs from the cracker dish getting into the chip bowl. Explain to your friends that you need to get yours first, before this might happen. Or, see if you can get an extra little serving dish to put some of the GF treats in for you, so you know they will stay gluten-free.
B.Y.O.S. – Bring Your Own Snack
Bring a gluten-free snack with you, so that you always have something safe to eat, just in case.
Squeezable yogurt packs
Cheese/ Deli meat
Your favorite candy