Celebrating Easter with Food Allergies
Every holiday can prove to have it’s challenges when you have or manage food allergies, but what happens when one of those holidays uses your food allergen as a focal point?
As a family that manages egg allergies (among others), including anaphylactic egg allergies, Easter can be a bit tricky.
But before I go into how we have managed Easter with egg allergies, do you know why eggs are a symbolic part of Easter and how we got to the tradition of decorating them?
Honestly, I did not know the correlation between Easter and eggs. Rabbits don’t lay eggs, so why bunnies and eggs? Well, I did a little search and here’s a few fun facts about our Easter traditions of eggs and egg coloring:
Decorating and dyeing Easter eggs has been practiced since the Middle Ages in Eastern Orthodox and Western churches
Eggs were prohibited to be eaten during Holy Week by the Church
The eggs that were laid during Holy Week became identified as “Holy Week Eggs” and this is where the tradition of decorating these special eggs came from
The egg itself is a symbol of The Resurrection of Jesus (new life emerging)
Eggs in the Orthodox tradition are painted red to symbolize the blood that Jesus shed on the cross
The White House Easter egg roll has been held since 1878
Dyeing Easter eggs is a pretty big tradition. We take a non-traditional approach to decorating our eggs with our kids.
When it comes time to decorate, there’s so many ways you can have fun without needing to use hard-boiled eggs!
And before I share those, I’ll also share why we don’t use hard-boiled eggs. While it may not seem like a big deal to use hard boiled eggs to decorate, since we’re not eating them, for us, there’s too much risk for exposure. Kids are kids. They drop things, break things, and we don’t want any accidental exposure, especially when it can completely be avoided without losing out on the fun. There’s no need to add stress or worry to an activity that doesn’t need it.
Knowing how severe our daughter’s allergies are, it would’t take much to accidentally break an egg, touch it, and then touch their mouth or face. Even trace amounts can cause serious reactions.
Instead of real eggs, we use craft eggs. Not only are these safe because they are made of cardboard and plastic (some are even wood), they are also durable for little hands while decorating (meaning they won’t break as easily as real eggs)!
In addition, they never go bad! You can keep them year after year (if you want) for decorations. Plus, they aren't expensive.
You can pick up craft eggs at places like Target, Hobby Lobby, and Amazon.
Last year we also bought this spinner and it worked great with the craft eggs! The kids had a blast taking turns decorating their eggs.
Additional ways to decorate craft eggs include:
Dyeing (yes it still works, they just aren't as bright)
Each of our children receive an Easter basket each year.
Like every other holiday, candy always seems to be a central component. Until we became a food allergy family, I never noticed how much candy and food surround so much of our celebrations.
On one hand, it’s a special occasion and I completely understand the want for a special treat, like a chocolate bunny. On the other hand, it makes me think about how much focus there is on sugary sweets. It’s always been a bit of a struggle for me.
From our years of managing food allergies, there’s one thing I’ve learned about kids: They will love WHATEVER they are given, food or otherwise. Our kids have never (to my knowledge) cared that they didn’t get a chocolate bunny.
Now with that being said, we do give our kids some safe sweets in their basket, but try to stick to mostly non-food items.
When it comes to the baskets, we try to balance between fun things and maybe a few items they need, such as new flip flops or a new toothbrush, etc. You can create a “theme” such as “outdoor fun” and put in items like bubbles, chalk, an outdoor game, etc. or maybe a princess theme.
To help get you started, I created a free download below of 33 Easter Basket Ideas, which includes both non-food and allergy-friendly treats!
You can also check out Allergic Living’s Easter Treat Guide for allergy-friendly treats as well.
Easter Egg Hunts
Lastly, we can’t forget about the fun of the Easter egg hunt!
This can be the most challenging Easter tradition as there’s less control if you attend a community egg hunt.
We’ve done them all - our own, our neighborhood association’s, as well as community planned events.
Here’s how we manage egg hunts:
At Home: We use safe-for-our kids candy. I’m also excited to see more and more stores carry pre-made eggs with non-food items like stickers! These would be perfect for those little children who can’t eat candy yet or if you don’t want any food. You could also consider little toys from places like Oriental Trading or party favors from Target and Party City to use. Any leftovers can be saved for Teal Pumpkin during Halloween!
Neighborhood Association: Our neighborhood puts on an egg hunt and I work with our board members to help select safe candy (at least for the eggs our kids will pick up). One way we ensure our kids get safe eggs is by using stickers for each kid to identify their eggs. Each child gets a specific sticker and they have to find the matching stickers. This helps ensure they are getting treats they can eat and also that every kid gets the same amount of eggs!
Community Events: Community events can come with more risk, but for us, we always have a set of rules we follow with our kids. They can participate, but we have go through everything with them before they can eat to ensure it’s safe. No eating before we check. If it doesn’t have an ingredient label, we don’t eat it.
While managing food allergies comes with a few extra steps and precautions, it doesn’t have to mean taking the fun out of the experience. We do our best to give our children the same experiences as other kids. It just may look a little bit different, with less focus on food and more on fun.
What are traditions and ways you celebrate Easter with food allergies?