09 Dec NAVIGATING THE HOLIDAYS WITH FOOD ALLERGIES
Tis the season for family time, parties, celebrating, and, of course, food. With that, can bring stress for food allergic individuals therefore planning ahead is key. Consider some of the following points to keep you and your child safe during the holidays:
Always Be Prepared
If you are hosting a party, ensure that there are a number of safe options for your child. If you are celebrating out of the house, keep your own stash of safe foods with you. It is also important that others know about the allergy so that they can either eliminate it from their cooking, if possible, or avoid putting it out (eg. Nut bowl). It is also helpful to carry wipes with you, especially for younger children, and ALWAYS carry epinephrine with you at all times.
Ensure That Others Know About the Allergy
This includes everyone who you will be celebrating with- family members, friends, schools, day cares, etc. When communicating about the allergy it is important to keep the conversation in a positive manner. Be very clear about what the allergy is, what foods it can be found in (both obvious and hidden sources), what cross contamination is, and the threat of a medical emergency if the allergen is ingested.
Take the stress off of the host by suggesting some adjustments or alternatives to dishes and traditions that could be harmful. An example could be an allergen-free cookie-decorating contest. Make it easy for the host and others to encourage participation and ease the anxiety for all.
Accept That It’s Okay To Have Differences
Avoid sending messages that it’s depressing to not have certain foods or participate in certain traditions. Create new traditions and teach your child that it’s okay. Be a good role model and your children will benefit from that.
How Do I Handle Family Members Who Just Don’t Get It?
Despite educating others, there will still be those who just don’t seem to understand. If such is the case, do everything within your power to keep your child safe. Bring your own food so that you are in control of food preparation and handling. Depending on your child’s age and stage, you may need to supervise at all times.
Stay safe and enjoy the holiday season!