Birthdays are a time filled with celebrating another year of life with loved ones, presents, and cake. Unfortunately for many of us with food allergies, this last part of the birthday equation tends to exclude us.
Having severe allergies to both tree nuts and peanuts, I’m often left out of this birthday tradition. Cakes, cookies, and ice cream have always been my enemies when it comes to birthday celebrations. These desserts, along with other foods that are commonly served at birthday parties, are almost always processed with nuts if they don’t already contain them. Homemade food is even worse, considering the fact that I have absolutely no idea what the ingredients in it are.
However, I’ve learned to have my own food allergy-friendly version of this birthday tradition. I still have a birthday cake every year on my birthday. I have this homemade chocolate bundt cake, and even though it’s not the prettiest or the fanciest cake out there, it tastes delicious. It’s even turned into one of my family’s birthday traditions. Every year, without fail, I have this bundt cake for my birthday. A birthday without it just doesn’t feel the same anymore.
Last year, I found a nut-free bakery that makes beautiful cakes. I was so excited to try it, to finally have my birthday tradition be similar to everyone else’s, with the perfect Instagram-worthy photo with the perfect cake. But even though the cake was beautiful, it just didn’t taste the same as my little chocolate bundt cake that I have every year. I realized that year that my birthday cake tradition doesn’t have to be eating the same pretty cake that everyone else has; it can just be me eating my non-Instagram-worthy bundt cake. I am going to continue this tradition of the bundt cake this year because that is what makes me happy.
So, even though we can’t eat the same food that everyone else is eating, we can make our own traditions. We all need a little old bundt cake in our lives. Maybe it’s your mom making your favorite allergy-friendly pancakes every morning on your birthday, or you going to your favorite safe restaurant. It doesn’t even have to be related to food. You can make your birthday tradition a board game that you play every year or a charity that you always donate to. The point is that we can make our own birthday traditions, and it can be whatever you want. If you just want to dance outside every year on your birthday, make that your tradition. And don’t be ashamed if your traditions are different from someone else’s. Embrace your unique traditions, and if someone doesn’t like them, ignore them. After all, it’s your birthday. So eat your cake, and enjoy it, too.