Dealing with Food Allergies and the Holidays

Living with a food allergy is tough enough on a daily basis. But during the holiday season when there are parties and family events all filled with food, it’s even harder. Think of all those Christmas cookies, cakes, desserts, and dairy filled dips that you find at parties and dinners. What’s a girl with a food allergy to dairy supposed to do? Or how about someone with an egg allergy or who has celiac disease and can’t eat all of those delectable items? Whether hosting or attending, here are some tips for surviving the holidays with a food allergy.

For those of us with a food allergy, be sure to communicate early on with your host about your food needs. Your host may not know that you have a food allergy and will need to be educated on what you can and can’t eat and also how to deal with cross contamination issues. Good communication can help to prevent food issues.

Another tip is to host the party or dinner at your house if it all possible. When you are hosting at your home it is much easier to control what is served and how it is being served. That’s just one reason why I like to have dinners and parties in my house. I can control what is being served, where the items are placed on a buffet table, and make sure that cross-contamination doesn’t happen. If you can’t host the party or dinner at your place, offer to help the host cook. Or offer to help modify recipes to be Top 8 Free.

If you are hosting a party or dinner where there will be someone with a food allergy in attendance, keep an open mind. Please understand that even a trace amount of an allergen can cause a reaction. Be sure to label all dishes that are being served so that people know what are the ingredients are and if safe to eat.

Also keep plenty of utensils on hand. Cross contamination is a huge issue for people with food allergies when they eat outside of their home. Thoroughly scrub all utensils and work surfaces. Again, trace amounts can cause a reaction and ruin your party and dinner.

Keep an open mind also to the variety of food items that can be served. Often times we revert to what we know and what’s easy like trays of cheese and crackers and dairy filled dips. Not only are these not the healthiest for anyone, but these dishes tend to be full of the Top 8 food allergens. There are so many other things that you can offer that are unique and just as delicious or more so. How about unique rice crackers that are gluten free? Think about chutneys, hummus, olives, cut up vegetables to serve instead of bread and crackers that will probably contain dairy or other allergens. I recently discovered Watermelon Radishes which are surprisingly sweet, extra crunchy and excellent for dipping into sauces. Don’t be afraid to experiement with new items in the produce department. And check out the recipe pages of my website for more ideas and inspiration.

With a little bit of planning ahead and an open mind, attendees and hosts can have a fun party and holiday event. Cheers!

What do you do to stay food allergy safe during the holidays? Share your tips and ideas in our comments section.

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