Fighting Food Allergies During the Holidays

Tis’ the season for holiday cheer — and holiday parties. For the parent of a child with food allergies, the constant occurrence of food-based parties at school, home, and elsewhere can come with added stress. Many people make goods for the holidays themselves, whether it’s cookies for Christmas or challah for Hanukkah. Unlike with store-bought snacks, homemade treats don’t come with allergen labels.

So how can parents make sure their kids stay safe during the holidays?

At Home

Your best bet is to offer to host holiday parties yourself. This way you can ensure that there’s no cross-contamination and that your child isn’t eating anything they shouldn’t. Check out Pinterest for good allergy-safe takes on classic holiday snacks. If your guests want to contribute, ask them to choose from a list of approved items such as beverages, paper products, or fruits and veggies.

If cutting out all allergens isn’t an option, then take special care in food preparation. Label all food clearly to avoid cross-contamination or the accidental consumption of unsafe foods.

Outside the House

If you can’t stay home, then be proactive. Your approach will depend on who the host is and whether making special requests would be appropriate.

One option is to reach out to the party host to see about preparing some safe foods. Offer to bake along with them and provide any specialty ingredients the alternative recipes may require. Some classic holiday recipes may already be safe depending on the severity and type of your child’s food allergies — chat with the host ahead of time to find out.

For some situations, it may be easier to pack your own food. Choose a good array of snacks that will make your child feel like part of the fun.

No matter where your party is, here are some good tips to keep your child safe:

  • Always check labels before serving.
  • Prepare safe foods before unsafe foods to decrease the likelihood of allergen transmission.
  • Thoroughly clean all utensils and workspaces before and after cooking.
  • Help serve your child during mealtimes to make sure they only consume safe foods.
  • Encourage everyone to wash their hands frequently throughout the occasion — especially after consuming food.
  • If you’re traveling, make sure to have your child’s Benadryl or EpiPen handy – just in case you need it.

Food is a huge staple of many holiday celebrations. So long as you take a few precautions, there’s no reason your child with food allergies can’t join in on the fun!

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