Another holiday season is here! No matter what holidays you celebrate, food is certain to be a part of the celebration. This can lead to anxiety for those who have food allergies or who have loved ones with food allergies. However, don’t let this put a damper on the festivities. Here are some tips to limit the stress that can be associated with social eating and food allergies.
1) Safety first: Most importantly, make sure that you carry your emergency medications (epinephrine, antihistamines) with you. Many times we forget to carry these medications because we may rarely have to use them. Hopefully you won’t need to use them in the middle of your Thanksgiving dinner either, but just in case, you definitely want to have them readily available.
2) Options are key: If you are hosting a meal or a holiday party, it’s much easier to be in control of the food options and to make sure you will have foods that are safe for you or your loved one to eat. However, if you are not hosting, you have much less control, but you can still provide options that may be overlooked by the host by bringing some foods that are safe yourself.
3) Communication is essential: Consider having a conversation with the host and make them aware of your allergies, in the case that they are able to make additional safe options available. Also discuss with the host about whether it is possible to label the dishes with the name of the foods. If multiple people are bringing dishes, consider including the name of the person who prepared each dish so that you can ask them about ingredients if needed. This will depend on the host’s willingness to be accommodating; it may seem cumbersome, but even those without food allergies like to know what they are eating and it is way to give credit to the person who made that amazing peach cobbler.
4) Be a food allergy-friendly host: You can’t please everyone, but as a host you likely want to avoid having your celebration interrupted by a guest having an allergic reaction. Additionally, you probably don’t want to alienate a guest with food allergies or for anyone to leave hungry because of a lack of food options. Keep in mind that that 90% of food allergies are caused by the following foods: nuts, seafood, egg, dairy (cow’s milk), wheat, and soy. It would be difficult to avoid all these foods in every dish, but perhaps try to have a few dishes that are, for example, dairy, egg, and nut free. A more specific way to do this would be to invite your guests to let you know about any dietary restrictions they may have. Your guests will be grateful and you will be known as a gracious host. It’s a win for everyone.