Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Food Allergies & The Holidays

Holidays & food just go together. Turkey and pumpkin pie at thanksgiving.  Sugar cookies, fudge and candy canes at Christmas. Traditions and memories often involve food.  And that's okay.  But when you have food allergies, those memories and traditions will just be different.  And that's okay too.  So what do you do if you are hosting a holiday party and will have someone with food allergies attending?  Here is some advice:

1- If you are planning a party and have someone coming who you know has a food allergy, talk to them in advance and find out more about their food allergy.  How severe is it?  Can they be around the food they are allergic too?  Everyone's reactions are different, so find out about your guest's food allergies and reactions.  Don't assume.

2-  Don't be offended if your guest will be bringing, or brings their own food.  Sometimes, you just can't be too careful.  Don't take it personally, in fact I'd think it would be a relief.  If someone's food allergies are so bad, the burden of making sure everything is safe can be stressful.  You wouldn't want to make a mistake and have your guest have a reaction to something you made.  The gesture and thought is always appreciated when people are accommodating for those with food allergies, but again, don't be offended if they bring their own food or decline what you've prepared.

3-  If they have severe food allergies, I think it's polite and considerate to just put those foods away for the party.  I'm thinking of nuts, in particular.  As traditional as they may be to our holiday parties, it'll put your mind and your food allergic guest's mind at ease if the nuts are not out during the party.  

4-  You might be able to plan your entire holiday party menu to accomodate food allergies and you might not.  I think it's polite though to offer at least a few choices that your food allergic guest can enjoy if they want.

5- I'm stating this one again: Just check with your guest!  I think that is the most important thing when planning a holiday party because everyone's allergies are different and are handled differently.

Alot of times holiday parties are potlucks.  This is something to keep in mind too.  If you have food allergies in your family, sign up to bring something!  That way you know at least your dish will be safe.  If you don't have food allergies, you might consider making something more allergy friendly if you know guests with food allergies will be attending too.  So instead of making the peanut butter fudge or peanut brittle, do chocolate fudge or nut free caramel popcorn balls.  Bring along some gluten or wheat free crackers with your cheeseball.  A platter of fresh fruits and/or veggies is a safe way to go to.

Hope this helps in your holiday party planning.  Happy Holidays!

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