Food Allergy Holiday Survival Guide

You've Got Allergies and You Don't Owe Anyone an Apology

by: Alex Thom
You can survive the holidays with food allergies with these helpful tips.

The other day we were out at a Christmas brunch with our family, and I found myself repeatedly apologizing for being a pain in the butt about Mason's food allergies. And in my head, I was reprimanding myself for apologizing because it's not like it's my fault he has allergies. I'm just doing my parental job by making sure the hot chocolate is safe, and double-checking that the foods are, too. But there I was: full-on stress mode, and also being utterly too Canadian in my constant apologetic state.

How To Create A Stress Management Plan That Works

This made me realize that for many, especially those fairly new to the food allergy world, being an advocate is really ... stressful. And awkward. And when you're already someone who loathes speaking up, it can be downright embarrassing. But it's also the way we protect the allergic people we love and how we spread awareness.

Declining invitations does nobody any good - we don't have to miss out just because of food allergies! We just need everyone to know how to handle them, and know how to communicate these needs. So I've got these helpful tips for navigating social waters this holiday season for those who deal with food allergies.

Sloane Miller, of Allergic Girl, is one of the most incredible food allergy advocates around. She's such an amazing source of information so I was delighted when she responded to me on Twitter when I asked, "Hey #foodallergy folks, if you could give ONE piece of advice for handling food allergies over the holidays, what would it be?". Here's what @allergicgirl replied:

  • Always keep your emergency medications on you.
  • Don't ever feel like you have to eat something to be a gracious guest. If you can't verify ingredients, just don't eat it.
  • I always recommend people know where their allergens can hide. Educate yourself so there are no surprises!

11 Allergy Myths Debunked: How Many Of These Did You Believe?

Twitter user @deevinesunshine hosted an entirely gluten- and dairy-free Thanksgiving dinner that everyone loved, and she offered up a very helpful tip, too:

  • You don't have to decline an invitation! Just adjust the plans a little.
  • If you're going to a restaurant, call ahead to speak with the manager and chef about your dietary needs.
  • If you're not sure they can handle food allergies, suggest a new venue where everyone will be safe.

My friend Lisa (who is @BlueRaveFinn on Twitter) also suggests:

  • If you're hosting, keep packages and ingredient lists handy. We love being able to read them to assure ourselves everything's ok.
  • How about offering to help cook at the host's home to ensure the food's safe?
  • If you're hosting, be sure to ask your guests if they have food allergies or restrictions.
  • Be aware that young children may not know enough to not eat food left out, so forgo the bowls of nuts or candies if there's someone allergic coming over.

If you have some helpful tips for managing food allergies during the holidays, please share them! I love hearing from all of you.

Image Source: Julemiddag on Flickr

Alexandria writes at YummyMummyClub on her blog Irritated by Allergies.