Gluten Free Tips for Having Fun in the Sun

By Jenny Stegen | October 20, 2020

Swimming Pool

Kids swimming at the pool

The swimming pool is a popular place for kids in the summer. The concession stand generally has limited gluten free options. Call ahead, tell them about your dietary restrictions, and ask if you are allowed to carry in a bag with snacks. This tote cooler is perfect for the pool. It comes in a few cute colors. I do not advise using ice in soft coolers. Use these ice packs - these are my very favorite and they stay cold for hours! Can't find them yet on Amazon but hope they come soon!

If you aren’t allowed to bring food in, are there areas outside where you can eat? Remember to pack that handy old bed sheet for a picnic table cover! Works like a charm. Alternatively, you can pack a blanket to spread out on the grass.

Kids burn a lot of calories swimming so fill them up before taking them to the pool. Just like filling your car with gas, we gotta keep our kids' fuel tanks full!

Don’t forget the sunscreen and be sure to try this gluten free Sun Bum lip balm.

Summer Camp

Grace with friends at Village Creek Bible Camp

Our kids treasure their week-long getaway to Village Creek Bible Camp every summer. They love meeting new friends and enjoying all of the activities they have to offer. The camp they attend has fully trained kitchen staff that offer amazing gluten free meals. I am so thankful I never have to worry about their nutrition at camp! Just because your kids are gluten free does not mean they have to miss out on great summer activities.

Make sure to call and speak with the kitchen manager before you sign them up. Ask about the gluten free menu and make sure they are trained and experienced in preventing cross-contamination. Most larger camps will have safe gluten free options available for your kids. Be sure to ask if they need to provide their own snacks. My kids are very good eaters and I always send some dry snacks for the week. Don’t forget to note their gluten restriction on their health form for camp. Happy Camping!

Zoo and Amusement Parks

Our family at the Madison Zoo with Giraffe in background

We love our water parks and visits to the zoo! Call ahead and ask if food can be brought in. Many places allow exceptions for celiac disease, food allergies, or diabetes. You may need a simple note from your doctor confirming your diagnosis. I always advise you carry a letter from your medical provider stating your name and diagnosis. Keep one in your glove compartment and one in your purse. You never know when it might come in handy. Some places have a hard and fast rule that food cannot be carried in no matter what.

If you are able to bring food into the park, is there a storage area for your cooler or food items? Here is where your good coolers and paper products once again come in handy (see my post on road trips for more packing details). Where can you eat inside the park? If you are not allowed to eat inside - are there grounds outside the park where you can eat? Are there picnic tables for seating? If so make sure you park in a location that is in close proximity to your picnic area. I don't like the thought of eating at a dirty table that rarely gets cleaned (especially during COVID). A little tip I learned from mom: pack an old bedsheet for a table cover. They take up no space and you can shake them out and pack them back up when you are done. Mom's have the best solutions!

Some parks have special areas for extra cost called cabanas. I have found these to be worth it if they allow food to be brought in. I figure I can pay a little extra for a cabana if I'm not spending money on food at the park. This gives you a comfortable meeting place to eat or relax throughout the day. You can also store your things in the cabana. If they don’t allow food inside, a cabana is probably not worth it.

Lastly, if they allow you to carry in food or drink, this portable backpack cooler is something you can’t leave home without! You will have cold water and snacks accessible at all times which is key to keeping the kids happy! Don't use ice in these backpacks - it will puncture the lining and turn into water. Use these ice packs - they are the perfect size and they will still be partially frozen after a long day at the park.

Your gluten free lifestyle is not going to stop you from having a whole lot of summer fun!  Do your summer plans include a long road trip?  Read my post for more great tips for families on the go.

Health and Happiness,

Jenny's Signature