The holiday season is supposed to be a time filled with cheerful parties, joyful gatherings, and lots of food. If you have food allergies and intolerances, it is then filled with cautious parties, fearful gatherings, and minimal food options.
Eating with food allergies can be difficult in general; now let's add in the holidays. You may be currently feeling the stress and emotional overhaul that typically comes with the restriction territory - I know I am. So how can we manage our diets during the holidays?
A situation I run into often is planning ahead of time. People who do not typically have to deal with restrictions, or someone who is unsure how to handle a person with food restrictions, tend to just assume you will handle these things on your own. If you are hosting a holiday gathering and have someone attending your gathering who has food restrictions, PLEASE communicate with them! Reach out to that person, or parent of the child with allergies, and inform them of the food that will be served.
Find out what you can do to make their holiday experience at your house enjoyable. Even if you know there is nothing you can make them, communicating and offering can go a long way. I know with my numerous restrictions, there isn't much other people can do for me in terms of food and that it is safer for me to do the preparations on my own. That being said, when I am attending somewhere and receive a message or call from the host inquiring if there is anything they can get me, I do appreciate the gesture and allows me to feel a sense of safety for this gathering.
For my foodies with food allergies, my greatest tip is to BYOD - Bring Your Own Dish. Making your own food will be safer, but there is no reason you have to feel left out either, which is why communication with the host is key. I always inquire what dishes are being served that day this way I can cook something similar. I know from experience how awkward it is to have something completely different from everyone else. Being able to match your dish to the ones being served at the gathering can ease this awkward feeling.
Here are other tips to help you through this holiday season:
Be the first! Ask if you can serve yourself, or your child, first to avoid cross-contamination.
Eat beforehand! The holidays tend to feel so circulated around food, but it doesn't have to be and it shouldn't be. I recommend eating beforehand if the gathering you are attending is not a sit-down dinner. Not only will you have more time to spend with family and friends, but you will also be able to do it without fear of a reaction.
Be the host! If your space allows for this, hosting the holidays yourself will keep you on top of all the preparations and allow you to accommodate your allergies yourself.
For more helpful tips to keep your food allergy family safe during the holidays, and always, visit this Instagram post below:
Have a happy and food-friendly holiday!