Enjoying the Holidays with Food Allergies

The holiday season is in full swing with Thanksgiving less than a week away, kicking off multiple events and get togethers with family and friends. I love this time of year because it really does bring people together and inspires us all to reflect on the past year and what to look forward to in the next.

What I used to not like about this time of year is all the stress of wondering what I was going to be able to eat at these various holiday events with my many food allergies: wheat, dairy, egg, and peanuts. The good news is I’ve learned to manage my allergies as a guest and have some great ideas for hosts who may not be as familiar with food allergies.

Tips for Guests
If you are going to be attending a dinner party and the host is not aware of your dietary needs/restrictions, try these tips:

  • Make your host aware of your food allergies and be ready to offer up suggestions for options you can eat that are easy for the host to buy or make. You don’t want to put added stress on the host.
  • If you are not comfortable making your food allergies or restrictions known, simply offer to bring an allergy-free dish and focus on making the dish something that most people would enjoy. Many people are still afraid of “alternative foods” so you don’t want to scare anyone off.
  • Inquire about ingredients that dishes were made with. This certainly does not pass judgment on the host and will help ensure you don’t eat an allergen in error.

Tips for Hosts
The holidays can be a stressful time and adding in hosting a party or two can add to that stress. To help ensure the comfort and enjoyment of everyone, especially those with allergies and food restrictions, try the tips below:

  • Inquire about food allergies with your guests in advance. This will provide comfort for those attending and save you trouble making several dishes that cannot be enjoyed.
  • Keep recipe and ingredients lists nearby as a resource that guests can reference. This will avoid the constant question “what’s in this”, which can become uncomfortable for your guests.
  • Use place holders to provide labels of various dishes. I attended a holiday party where each dish was listed as gluten-free, containing dairy, eggs, etc. It helped me easily navigate through the choices and made for a very comfortable and pleasant meal.

Some great references are also available online that can help with finding recipes, alternative products and even ready-made appetizers, dishes and desserts. A few of my favorites are:

Living Without – The magazine for people with food allergies and sensitivities that also lists recipes and tips online.

All Recipes.com – Using their advanced search, you can find recipes that are dairy-free, diabetic-friendly, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.

Bob’s Red Mill – This site has every ingredient you could ever hope for that will allow you to tailor recipes and make allergy-friendly meals. There is also a recipe section you can visit for idea.

Gluten Free Mall – This site has many pre-made foods that include great appetizers, breads and mixes to take the burden off of having to make it all yourself.

Baby Cakes Bakery – My favorite bakery, and heaven on earth, ships nationwide, so no excuse to miss out on the cake, cookies, brownies, cupcakes and even donuts this year.

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