Food, Fun, and EpiPens: Enjoying an Allergy-Free Holiday


Deck the halls! It’s time for holiday soirees, family gatherings, class parties, and the like. All giggles and games, right? Sure, you’re stressed about outfits and invites and cards and the perfect teacher gift, but this is the season of fun and festivities–most of which include food. (Thanks to FWMB’s own Jody for the pic!)

meal photo

The food is the easy breezy part  . . . unless (cue scary music) . . . . You have food allergies or are the parent of a child with food allergies. Suddenly the endless socials, parties, banquets, buffets are now anxiety ridden opportunities for your child to ingest something dangerous (agh, even deadly).

So what do you do?

If you or your child has food allergies, make it known loud and clear. Remind the teacher. Mention it to the play date group. Jostle your mother-in-law’s memory.  I say a little something like, “Don’t forget, my sweetie is allergic to sesame seeds. You know, buns and breads and humus and Asian food.” During this season, I also inform the nursery workers at church; they are on a rotational basis. And given the holidays, teachers often want to “treat” students without an official announcement to the parents. So I often make a mention of her allergy when I drop her off.

If you are not sure of the menu, ask the host what foods will be served. Of course, this should be done in a gracious, quiet manner. While it is difficult to believe, the world does not revolve around my little angel; and it’s not realistic (or very nice, if you ask me) for me to assume/expect others to be as concerned about her food allergy as I am.

When attending the event, take a gander at the goodies. Is there anything that potentially contains the food allergen? If you have questions, ask! Better safe than sorry. It may also be wise to pack snack bags with alternative foods to give your wee one if necessary. And again, in some cases, you may need to exit cordially. In fact, we recently did not attend a church function because the food served contained sesame seeds.

If you are organizing or hosting a holiday party, consider including an allergy  inquiry on the invitation. Something as simple as “Please note any food allergies” goes a long way. If it’s a smaller shin-dig, just text or email or whatever is most convenient–just ask if anyone has food allergies. It takes the pressure off the mom or dad who is worried about being THAT parent to bring it up again and again.

As a rule of thumb, for larger parties (especially if you do not know everyone attending), avoid serving foods that contain common allergens, such as peanuts or shellfish. I mean who wants to throw the party that’s remembered as the one with the ambulance and epipens?

Of course, these tips apply beyond the Christmas season. Birthday parties and school functions and Vacation Bible School and on and on are all arenas where this topic must be tackled. Yet, just a bit of preparation and consideration along with a remark or two makes the occasion enjoyable–and allergy free–for all.

Do you or your family suffer from food allergies? What are your tips to enjoying and managing events?



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