Living With Food Allergies During the Holiday Season

During the holidays, people with food allergies can feel left out of celebrations, especially during the holiday season. Food restrictions make it difficult to enjoy holiday feasts and baked goodies, says SI Live. Lauren Smith, whose son Dylan, 11, has a severe peanut allergy, knows this problem all too well. Every year, she alerts hosts and hostesses to his allergy, bakes cookies he can safely eat, and checks the food labels of everything he consumes. “If I go to someone’s house, I always bring something that’s safe for him to eat,” says Mrs. Smith. Dylan also carries a chef's card in case he's dining out with friends or family.

For both adults and children with food allergies, the holidays can seem daunting, as they attend celebrations with people who may not be familiar with food allergens. Be sure to discuss foods with the host or hostess when accepting an invitation. Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York, says “The most important aspect is successful communication between the guest and host prior to the holiday meal." You don't want to walk in on the evening of the event to find that the host has prepared a main dish in peanut sauce or has bowls of peanuts laying around within arm's reach of your allergic toddler. Identify safe ingredients and recipes, and mention the issue of 'cross-contamination.'

You may also wish to bring home-prepared items, which can "keep it simpler and safe for all," says Dr. Bassett, than expecting a host who is unfamiliar with food allergies to adjust to your needs. Also remember to bring your EpiPen epinephrine auto-injector, in case you are accidentally exposed to an allergen. Have fun and be safe this holiday season!

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