food restrictions

Why Your Event Needs To Meet Dietary Needs

Maybe you’re planning an event for your child’s first birthday. Or you’re putting together a dance for your church. Or there’s a potluck dinner with friends happening. No matter where you’re going, what you’re doing, or who you will be with…if you’re like my family and friends, there will be food.
We joke often at my church that they will know we are Christians by our love; but they will know we are baptists by our potlucks. Food is a central part of so much of our fellowship. Often after a child is born, we are making meal trains. Someone is hurt and the immediate reaction is, “Well can I make you a meal???” I’ve even been known while meal planning to factor in at least once a week we will be having some kind of meal with our church family.
One thing that has become increasingly important and visible to me through all this eating(thanks church family for the pant size growth!) is that there are so many dietary needs out there I never really recognized until the past year. I have to say, after becoming so involved with so many members, it feels a little selfish how unaware I was. Especially as I was a vegetarian for 3ish years…I should know what it’s like to have less options to eat! But as a whole our family struggles with no food allergies, except my intolerance to blue dye, and we eat almost everything. At this point however, in our biweekly group, we encounter a vegetarian, a few gluten free humans, someone who stays away from dairy and a lactose intolerance.
We’ve become pretty sensitive to dietary requirements and I think, quite honestly, it’s something you need to think of as well.


There are REAL LIFE THREATENING consequences to just ignoring allergies.

I was going to say a lot about this but I want to share something my friend Naomi wrote for her page. Naomi has a son with a rare disease that makes it impossible for him to eat certain foods-who better to hear this from than a woman living this daily (I’m sharing this with her permission, however the boys name has been changed!)

“John’s allergy cannot be treated with an epi-pen, but that does NOT mean it is not a life-threatening allergy. On the contrary, there is not a medication that can be administered during a reaction. That is why we wait them out at home, constantly monitoring his blood pressure, alertness, and hydration levels.
– I have had well intentioned friends and family shrug off the allergy, insisting he’ll out grow it or that it’s not that big of a deal if he gets ahold of something. To put it rather bluntly, while well intentioned, those people are wrong – and typically speaking out of a selfish desire for things to be easy.
– Food labels are checked religiously. Even if it’s something we’ve had before. Recipes can be changed.
– Anytime John* starts crying for an unexplained reason, I immediately prepare for a reaction. If there is even the remotest concern that he’s been exposed to something, I watch him like a hawk for an extended period of time. Because it takes 2-3 hours for the reaction to even begin.
– Anytime John has a food he has not had before, we have to trial it, giving small amounts building up to a regular serving. His trigger foods cross the ‘normal’ pattern of 2 or more allergies being in the same ‘family’ (ie oats and rice or chicken and turkey). Thankfully, we have not experienced any other trigger foods, but we are keenly aware they could exist.
– We don’t know if he will outgrow this or not. Many – even most – children do. Others do not. When it comes time to trial the trigger foods, you can trust and believe the whole house will be on high alert.
– It is terrifying to know that your child could get ahold of something that could send him into shock and threaten his life. It is heartbreaking to know that your children are going without foods they’d like to have because it just isn’t safe. It is expensive to make everything allergy-safe (for not just John, but Paul’s more typical igE allergy to dairy and gluten). It is exhausting to be on high alert anywhere but at home. It is isolating trying to keep your kid safe. It is sobering to know that while this is challenging, there are other children with this rare disease who are allergic to ALL foods.”

(You can find more writing by Naomi on her blog: Living out 127.)

I want you to take a moment and reread that. This is something families with allergies must go through every day, before attending a meeting or church function. I find people who are so quick to shrug off peanut allergies, not recognizing all the while that their choices could very well be life or death for the people coming. Kaycee, at Kaycee Simpson, brings another good point to light: labeling! “One suggestion I would have is for people to put together a little place card, even if it’s on a 3×5 card with the basic ingredients used in that dish, especially if it has nuts in it.I am absolutely in love with this idea and intend to begin making it happen for out church dinners. 

Beyond what we offer for food, we must be mindful of meals for those who struggle with issues such as diabetes. A friend points out: “My husband is diabetic and so we can’t do any snacks or appetizers. Or for example, we go to a wedding and the cake is served later, after the meal so my husband can’t have any because he already ate and have his medicine…..I guess for us it’s more about timing than anything.”

Wow. I never would have even considered that, despite having family members who do struggle with diabetes. Timing is so important when it comes to meals and fellowship. I woul even add in that when catering to small children as well, it’s important to be mindful of timing. While there’s not a surefire way to remedy this, it is something to take into consideration.

Food is meant to be a social experience, as I said, we use it with fellowship constantly. Emily, at The Joyful Stepmom, adds, “I’m Celiac and must eat gluten free. I understand not providing for every single possibility.. But food is a very social experience. When I sit at a social dinner and just sip my water and pass on the meal, I”m fine. I get it. But I’ve found it’s awkward and upsetting for those around me. Providing for dietary needs doesn’t help just the person, it caters to the overall atmosphere of all guests and the experience in general.” 

I love her last line so much. It’s true: I don’t want to sit next to someone who can’t enjoy meals with me. I want to partake in eating for fun, laughing and enjoying our time together. I would feel so uncomfortable if a person sitting next to me couldn’t eat anything from a long table of potluck meals because no one made a meal that was vegetarian or skipped out on cheese. I’ve been that person-and it’s not fun.

Providing food that meet needs at your event isn’t that hard.

As Phylicia from Phylicia Delta points out, it’s not that hard to simply provide some veggie plates to go along with the food. “We eat Paleo, so basically meats and veggies, but it has been super hard (sad even) to attend events that are loaded with carbs, carbs, carbs and not a vegetable in sight! (Baked beans are not a vegetable)”. Ask someone to pick up a veggie or fruit platter instead of making yet another pasta. Chances are people in your group would be happy to help out and someone will be so grateful that you did it.

So I urge you. Before planning your next get together, before just showing up with a pasta salad, take into consideration if there are options for those people who cannot or choose not to eat certain foods. It will be appreciated-and you are creating a space where people feel more welcome and loved. 

FBCNA Winter Wonderland Dance

FBCNA Winter Wonderland!

In case you missed it last year, our church has started having an annual dance every year to get together in fellowship and share fun times together. This is our second year and the second year I’ve helped create this event! We have so much fun and I just wanted to share some tips and tricks, as well as a very easy and cheap tutorial for games to play while at the dance.

We set up a few games that we had going during the night. I had read about a marble game where you sucked it with a straw on Pinterest. I’m not sure how anyone made it work-we struggled to get the marble into the air and move it from place to place. I acknowledge failure on my part (I’ve been told it was pompom balls or *THE HORROR* cotton balls…so now I get it).
Not shockingly, a game where you simply guessed a number and possibly won a bunch of candy and a water bottle was a hit. We also did a newlywed game, which I played instead of hosting this year, and that was a huge hit as well!

But the real winner? The heart shaped game of pong I created earlier that day. It was super easy to make, cute and cheap, and a TON of fun.
When I say cheap-I mean cheap. I ran to the local dollar store and bought a white poster board, 24 cups, and two things of colorful tape. Like any good crafter(I’m not) I had a glue gun on hand(still in the packaging from when I ordered it at Halloween time) and I added a few sparkly hearts and blue for decorations(I stole these from my children).
And any doubt it will be to difficult?! NOT AT ALL! I simply put the cups in the shape I wanted to glue them down and one by one, went along gluing. The shape was simply a pyramid, like the pong you played in high school, with two cups at the top to create the heart like feel.
Voila! Super easy, super simple, and super fun! My one recommendation is this-I couldn’t find ping pong balls so I borrowed some of the babies ball pit balls and they were a little too big. But other than that-no regrets. It seemed to be fun for everyone involved. We didn’t add any liquids to the cups, not because we’re the kind of Baptist that doesn’t drink, but mainly because it was indoors and below freezing outside. You could easily add water for some outside, summer fun.


Our decorations were again 100% thanks to the amazing Jen Solak. I’m forever amazed by her creativity and talent.

A few tips?

1. If there’s going to be a dinner part, make sure you’re providing options for the people involved who have food allergies or sensitivities. We make sure to take care of our gluten free and allergic friends and family every year and I know I’ve been told they’re very thankful to not have to worry about it.

2. Triple check EVERYTHING with the venue before hand. We had some really cute water bottles-and then found out we couldn’t bring our own water in.

3. A suggestion I really want to put into place next year-nanny share! A good number of our church family has kids and there were a few couples who couldn’t come because of baby sitter situations. I want to suggest a few central houses with a few baby sitters at each!

4. Use Spotify Premium! Seriously, this isn’t a paid ad-it’s just something that helped so much! We had a microphone, a speaker and Spotify Premium. All suggestions were played, no extra DJ cost. It was awesome.

5. HAVE FUN! Y’all, we can get so caught up in trying to make sure everything looks perfect and has the perfect feel and everyone is taken care of…just have fun. Especially if you’re one of the dance planners.

I cannot wait until next year but for now, I’m just basking in the glory of another great dance-and feeling thankful thankful thankful to the people who put in the effort to make it work!

please

Please, Bring Your Screaming Baby to Our Church.

 

Per usual, I began inviting people to our Christmas events the day before Thanksgiving. I love Christmas so very much and I always want to invite other people to spend the entire season with me. It’s the perfect time of year to be an extrovert. A big part of our Christmas Eve, and Day this year, is church. Whenever I invite people to church, there’s a reaction of horror.

“Oh, I can’t go!” they explain. There’s a list of reasons why they can’t come, even though it’s Christmas Eve. I truly get some-if you don’t believe, if you aren’t into that, okay. But more often than not, I find people tell me they don’t want to feel unwelcome because of a circumstance.

So I want you to know this year…we want your screaming baby sitting in the back pew at our church on Christmas Eve. You are more than welcome to stand in the back, rocking them back and forth. We won’t glare at you if they fuss.

please

We want your child who loudly proclaims in the middle of the service, “Look at my glowstick!” We want you, if you have to run out during a hymn because your toddler is holding onto themselves crying out “MAMA I GOTTA PEE”. You won’t be the first, or the last, to have that happen. Take it from the experienced runner outer.

You are welcome with your nursing baby. Chances are someone will even help you cover up if you’re struggling with your scarf or blanket. We love to see you bounce the baby a little, searching for a bottle. There may be someone around you who smiles and waves at your kids while our pastor is preaching…we like that too.

Even if you don’t know the words to the carols, even if you have forgotten the tune to the hymns, we would love to see you sitting next to us on Christmas morning. We don’t care where you’ve been, where you’re coming from, who you’re leaving behind…we would love to share this glorious day with you.

Maybe you’ve never read the Lord’s Prayer before in your life. Maybe you don’t even know if you believe the words in it. Maybe you read it every day for a decade and then walked away from it and this is your first time back at a church since then…it doesn’t matter what your circumstance is. We would love for you to be with us on Christmas Eve and day.

You might be in your finest clothes, stopping in for your three times a year church attendance. You may never have the inclination to return. You may fall in love and want to come every week after(no pressure though). You may meet a new friend or you may sit quietly in the back, intentionally trying to avoid contact. I apologize now if you do not succeed…we’re not a great place to go if you don’t want love or fellowship.

You might be in jeans and a stained shirt. You might still have on pajamas from the night before(actually that’s recommended for Sunday Morning!). You are still welcome in our congregation.

Maybe you’re only here because it’s warmer than your house this weekend. Maybe you hope to find some support in grieving your first holiday after you lost a loved one. Maybe you’re only here to appease your grandmother. Maybe your Christmas season is plagued with heartache and sorrow, maybe this feels like an annoyance that takes you away from the party.

No matter why you find yourself here, no matter the reasons you think you would be shunned, you are loved. You are cherished. You are valued. And we would love to see you at church with us this Christmas. Actually, we would love to see you at our church any given day.

Please, bring your screaming baby to our church.

(Because I assure you, yours will not be the only one.)

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