Your child has a friend who deals with some type of food related problem or whose parents don’t allow them to eat a certain food, what do you do? Let them come over but only between meals? Avoid having them over at all? If you are looking for a way to include their friend in a meal or snack, in all honesty it may be very hard.
Here are a few tips on how to help make him or her feel as welcomed as possible:
1. Prevent cross-contamination.
When someone is dealing with a serious reaction to food, cross-contamination is a real concern. This occurs when there is unintentional, physical transfer of microorganisms from one food or object to another. To prevent cross-contamination, there are several steps to take. Starting with washing your hands and surfaces and always use clean dishes and utensils.
If you are really concerned about cross-contamination, keep paper dishes and plastic silverware at your home that can be tossed away when their friend is done eating. Also consider buy a cheap cutting board to only for him or her as the knife groves will trap the microorganisms of food. More information about preventing cross-contamination can be found here.
2. Talk to the friend or their parents.
Have a sit down conversation with the child if he or she is older or with their parents if they are younger. Express your desire to make them feel welcomed in your home and that you want to be able to cook or keep food in the home for them. Ask about the severity of their reactions and what exactly their “bad” foods are. Also, ask which food would be easiest for you to prepare and keep a list of the suggestions they have.
3. Take no for an answer.
My friends do not have any food restrictions so I am the one that comes over and causes the issues. I can eat fruit but that about it when I go to different homes. They offer me food still and try to be accommodating and I say, “Thank you, but I’m good”. I’ll pack my own food and feed myself or instruct them on how to prepare what I brought for the meal. Often, I will also just eat before or after.
If the child says that it is okay for you not to cook for them and that they will bring their own food, accept it. They are not insulting you, they likely don’t want to be a inconvenience for you or may not even know themselves what to ask you to make.