Ways to Survive the Holidays with Food Allergies
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
November 15, 2012
Filed Under Health
Contributed by Info Guru Terri Wallace
Does eggnog do you wrong? Can fruit cake tie you in uncomfortable knots?
The holidays can be overwhelming for those with food sensitivities and food allergies, but with some forethought and preparation you can survive the holidays—they might even be enjoyable!
One of the easiest ways to stay safe around the holidays is to discuss your food allergies. Make sure that you communicate your allergies in writing so they can refer back to your allergens while planning the menu.
9. Be Specific
It is not enough to merely let them know that you must eat “gluten free” or “dairy free.” Instead, provide your host with a list of foods that might trigger an allergic reaction. Unless someone suffers from a specific food allergy or sensitivity, he may not be aware that “malted rice syrup” can trigger a reaction in those suffering from Celiac disease. Use this as an opportunity to educate!
8. Be Efficient
Another way to manage food allergies is to be efficient in your presentation of the foods. Make a list of all of the foods that could trigger an allergic reaction in a guest and keep those foods on a separate table from the “safe” foods. Or, in the alternative, use color coding to designate “safe” foods. Make sure to provide guests with separate utensils for the allergen free foods and the other foods; the utensils can also be color coded for ease of identification.
7. Keep it Separate to Keep it Safe
Remind anyone preparing food that for food to be considered allergen free they need to start with the food preparation site. All allergens need to be removed from the food preparation area and the area must be meticulously cleaned in order to avoid cross contamination. Also be mindful of utensils when watching for cross contamination. It is very easy to grab the wrong spoon and inadvertently contaminate an otherwise allergen free food.
6. Clean it Up
Make sure that everyone preparing food, serving food, or eating food wash their hands regularly. Some food allergies are so severe that even miniscule amounts of the offending food can trigger a life-threatening reaction. Also be certain to clean the area thoroughly prior to food preparation, after food preparation, and after the meal is cleared.
5. Bring Your Own
If the host would be unnecessarily burdened by accommodating multiple food needs, the guests should be willing to bring a few dishes that are safe for them to consume. This allows the allergic guests to enjoy the holidays and the fellowship of friends and family while still keeping safe.
For children with food allergies, consider making labels that show “dangerous foods” and give the child a badge with a legend of foods that are off limits to him. Allow him to pick and choose from safe items. This allows the child to feel more in control of their food options and also provides a fun “scavenger hunt” type feel to the meal without having to repeatedly tell him, “No! You can’t have that!”
3. Be Careful of Processed Foods
Homemade foods can harbor allergens under a number of names that aren’t always easily identifiable. By sticking to homemade foods, it is easier to recognize and control what is ingested. If you are hosting an event that allergic individuals will be attending, make sure to keep recipes close at hand so that they can double check the ingredients. Likewise, if you purchase food items for a party, keep the packaging showing the ingredients so that guests can satisfy themselves that a food is, indeed, safe for them to eat.
2. Coordinate an Allergen Free Recipe Swap
Before the holiday season, consider hosting an Allergen Free Recipe Swap. Invite friends and family over to partake of allergen free foods and to take home recipes with them for their use. If there are several family members or friends who also have food allergies, invite them to bring their own foods and recipes to share.
1. Host an Allergen Free Pot Luck
If you or your family member (or dear friend) has severe food allergies, or an abundance of food allergies, consider hosting an Allergen Free Pot Luck. Inform guests of the “banned” food items (see #9), and encourage them to bring foods that meet the criteria. By involving guests in the process of cooking for someone with food allergies, the host can educate them in the struggles and complexities involved with coping with allergies.
Ultimately an individual must be mindful of their own safety but, by communicating with and educating others, the joy of the season can shared with friends and family members. Individuals with known food allergies should be mindful to have their emergency medication handy in the event of an allergic reaction.