Non-food treats – 10 food-free ideas for kids of all ages

As some adults and children managing food allergies might tell you, navigating the social world of food is often no picnic (so to speak). And both kids and grown-ups alike want to treat themselves from time to time. Depending on the food allergies you or the kids in your life are managing, snacks that are free of specific allergens might be readily available at home but sometimes, they’re more difficult to access in outside settings, calling for a more creative approach for treats.

One challenge often appears in schools and other child-care settings, particularly when a teacher or caregiver must accommodate children with varied food allergies in the same space. What treats can you offer that are not food related? Well, look no further! The first five ideas are just for you. And of course, all kids can get involved.

  1. Stickers: These are very nearly the currency of childhood, and are usually a most welcome treat for young children.
  2. Body break time: The child/ren in your life need to move. If you don’t have a body break area, it’s fun for kids to have time to wiggle, walk around, or even do yoga with a trained teacher or video.
  3. Art supplies: Coloured pencils, pens, or washable markers, drawing pads, scrapbooks with materials, stamps with ink, sidewalk chalk, paints, etc.
  4. Games and toys: Collectible cards (e.g., Pokemon), rubber balls (non-latex if a member of the group has this allergy), dollar store hand puppets or other small stuffed animals, child-safe masks or costumes for dress-up fun, puzzles, yo-yos, etc.
  5. Reading, computer or app time: A good book or time spent on educational web sites like CBC Kids. What could be better?

But how about adults with food allergies? Maybe you left your safe snack at home, or perhaps you – like so many other grown-ups out there, with or without food allergies – simply want to reward yourself without turning to food. We haven’t forgotten you! Here are five treat ideas for you to consider and build upon. The only limit is your imagination!

  1. That’s entertainment!: If you have the time, why not take yourself out to the movies, the theatre, or to see live music?
  2. Indulge your mind: Buy yourself the latest novel you’ve been meaning to pick up, or learn something new – whether it be a musical instrument, a language, or any other skill you’ve thought about learning.
  3. Luxuriate: Self-care doesn’t have to break the bank, and it’s good for you! If you rarely take the time to make yourself a priority, consider treating yourself to little indulgences, from home bubble baths (free of your allergen/s, of course), to a spa day, or a seated chair massage if time is limited.
  4. Get mindful: If you don’t do so already, meditation is a great way to chill out and relax into (or out of) your day.
  5. Get moving: Have only a short window of time to play with? A walk or jog around the block might just be the change of scenery and short body break you need to give you a little boost.

We hope these suggestions sparked some ideas of different and fun ways of treating yourself and your children!