Who’s Ready for BBQ?

By Amy Goodman
Co-Director, Autism NOW Center

Memorial Day is coming up and your child is invited to a cookout with lots of food; however, if he/she has certain dietary restrictions, this may be a source of stress and anxiety. If your child has special dietary needs, what do you do? Should you or your child not attend the cookout because there won’t be anything for him/her to eat? Bring special food to eat during the party? Or should the host make sure to provide something your child could eat? Here are some tips and information to help both party guests and part hosts feel more at ease regarding people who have special dietary needs.

Tips and Ideas for Cookout Guests with Special Dietary Needs

One tip to help make a cookout go smoother would be talking to the host of the party about your loved one’s dietary needs in advance. Make sure that the host knows if your child has autism or another developmental disability, what the dietary needs are, and what may happen if he/she consumes foods that are not in the diet. This way, the host is prepared for any challenge that may arise. Having this conversation will also allow you to determine whether or not you will need to bring additional food for your loved one.

Information for Memorial Day Party Hosts!

If you are a Memorial Day Party host, and you are unfamiliar with some common dietary restrictions that people with autism and other developmental disabilities have, we have included some general information and cookout tips for you below!

What is the Gluten-Free and Casein-Free diet?
The Gluten-Free and Casein-Free diet is a diet that eliminates all gluten and all casein products. Gluten refers to all wheat products, or products with wheat in them and casein refers to all dairy products. So what can an individual on this diet eat? Some examples may include fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, dried fruits (without sulfites), coconut (without sulfites), potato chips (read labels-some have wheat or starch), potato sticks, popcorn (no butter), rice cakes (read ingredients, some are not GF), rice crackers, fresh meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and game. Other foods include corn, millet, teff, rice and rice products, potato (fresh, starch, flour), beans, eggs, nuts, and much more.

Tips for Hosts
If you decide to plan your own BBQ and you know one or more of your guests are on a gluten-free, casein-free diet, here is a tip to help make the process go smoother for all parties involved. Make sure there are gluten-free potato chips, hot dogs and hamburgers without a bun and a variety of condiments. Most condiments are gluten-free, casein-free; however, be sure to check the labels on food items to be certain. Places to find gluten-free and casein-free food include organic sections of most major grocery stores, as well as health food stores.

Remember, communication between attendees and hosts about food restrictions, diets, or intolerances will make everyone feel more at ease in participating and enjoying fun holiday activities! I hope that all of you have a Happy Memorial Day and enjoy all of your summer fun!

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