Despite the cheery decorations you likely are already seeing in stores everywhere, not everyone loves Valentine’s Day. It’s true, some people have a love/hate relationship with the holiday. Many in the food allergy community can fit into this category and it isn’t hard to see why.
On one hand…who doesn’t love a day that celebrates love for others? I mean, for goodness gracious…look at the news and the things taking place around the world and tell me we couldn’t all benefit from a spreading a little more love and kindness toward one another! I don’t need a special day on a calendar to remind me to tell those I love how much they matter, but I’ll never shy away from the opportunity the holiday provides either.
On the other hand, for those with food allergies, the holiday can be a minefield of sorts. Beautifully wrapped festive candies and treats are everywhere. Some treats that are usually considered safe for you might not be in the holiday version of that same candy because of packaging concerns…try explaining that to a three year old. And some candies are taped to a card, which although they are usually sent with good intentions, don’t carry an allergy statement or ingredient label.
My son has had food allergies for fourteen years now, and has grown up with the mantra that his food allergies can’t define him unless he lets them. For that reason, my family has never really shied away from celebrating holidays that create challenges, we try to embrace them with our own unique food allergy flair.
For our family, when my son was in preschool and elementary school, this usually meant:
- Not eating anything handed out at school, at school or at home
- Bringing safe treats to school
- Trading unsafe candy for safe candy or toys at home
- Volunteering to be homeroom mom or a party helper to further ensure his safety
- Handing out Valentine’s with non-food items such as cool erasers, stickers, or pencils
During middle school and now high school, the potential food allergy challenges are changing. Whether it is party he is invited to, a team celebration, or even a date, we sit down together and talk about the possible challenges and ways to gracefully navigate them.
Regardless of their age, I usually do at least one little thing for both of my kiddos for Valentine’s and usually put it with a funny card. Over the years, these have been some of my favorite go-to’s that worked for my son:
- Fun toys and stickers from Oriental Trading
- Candy from companies I trust, like Enjoy Life Foods. I think these are adorable little favor sized candies!
- DumDum Lollipops
- And now that they are older, one of my favorites is an experience gift. (This usually means catching a movie together or maybe even mini golf or bowling outing.)
Still trying to think of an idea that might work for you and your family? Be sure to check out this post from Allergic Living on their top food allergy picks for Valentine’s Day 2019.
Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, maybe give a word of kindness or do a favor for a friend because this crazy world we live in is ALWAYS in need of that!
However you choose to spend February, I hope it is filled with joy and kindness!
*Disclaimer: Enjoy Life Foods provided me with the pictured Valentine’s sample candy packs for free. I did not receive monetary compensation for this blog post and the opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own.*