The holiday season is fast approaching, and you know what that means - friends, family, and lots and lots of food. It’s a time of joy, love, and laughter. However, if you or a loved one has food allergies, it can also be stressful to navigate. Whether you’re hosting a gathering, traveling with family, or celebrating solo, there are so many ways to safely and confidently enjoy the festivities. With some careful planning and preparation, you can make sure that your holidays are both fun and allergy-friendly. Stay merry and bright with our list of tips and tricks that will help guide you through the season!
1. Always Stay Informed
One of the most important things you can do to ensure a safe holiday season is to stay informed. Food manufacturers often change their formulas, so it's always a good idea to read labels every time you purchase a product, even if it's the same brand of dough you used to make your famous Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie last year. Look out for any potential allergens and be aware of cross-contamination risks. If you're unsure about a particular food or ingredient, don't hesitate to reach out to the manufacturer for clarification. You’ll feel so much more secure knowing that you did your research ahead of time.
2. Educate Others
Food allergies aren’t always at the top of everyone’s minds, especially during the holidays. So take extra time to properly educate your loved ones. You already know so much about your specific restrictions, but others may not. Whether you are hosting an event or attending one, make sure that everyone involved is aware of you or your child’s food allergies and understands the potential risks. Provide a list of specific allergens and remind them of the importance of avoiding cross-contamination. Even if you don’t plan to eat any food that you didn’t make yourself, bringing attention to the issue will only help your peace of mind. Unsure how to start this conversation? Not to worry! Check out our tips for How to Teach Your Loved Ones About Your Child's Food Allergies.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
You are the only person who truly knows what is safe for you or your child. You might feel pressured to try a bite of stuffing or feed your child a slice of apple crumble. But it’s okay to say no. It is okay to set boundaries. It’s even okay to just stay home. If you feel more comfortable spending the holidays in an environment that you know is safe, feel free to reject any invitations that come your way. Prioritizing yourself and your family is the only way to ensure that you have a stress-free experience. So speak up. There’s nothing wrong with doing what is best for you. Making your turkey and stuffing at home is a fun bonding activity you can do with your family. Embrace it!
4. Ask Questions
Asking questions is second nature to a lot of people who deal with food allergies. Don’t let the mayhem of the holiday season get in the way of that. If you’re unsure about a particular ingredient in your neighbor’s gingerbread cookies, don't hesitate to ask questions. Reach out to the host or the person who prepared the food for more information. It's always better to be as safe as you can be. And don’t worry, your loved ones will be understanding and more than willing to answer any questions you may have.
5. Create a Safe Zone
If you attend or host any holiday gatherings, designate a specific safe zone where allergen-free dishes can be served. This will help prevent cross-contamination and provide a worry-free space for those with food allergies to enjoy their meal. Use separate utensils, serving dishes, and labels to clearly distinguish this safe area. Encourage guests to be mindful of the safe zone and avoid bringing allergen-containing foods into that area. That gluten-free, dairy-free mac and cheese deserves to stay gluten-free and dairy-free!
6. Pack Safe Foods
It’s never fun to arrive at an event only to discover that nothing on the menu works for your diet. So pack up some allergy-friendly green bean casserole and bring it along. Even if the host is considerate of your food allergies, it's always best to prepare a dish that you know is safe to eat. This way, you can avoid any potential cross-contamination or accidental exposure to allergens. Bringing your own food also ensures that you have a satisfying meal and eliminates the need to explain your dietary restrictions to others. Try On the Go Crunchsters for something allergy-friendly to snack on. Feeling like a sweet treat? Free2b Sun Cups are a great dessert alternative that you’ll absolutely love.
7. Explore Allergy-Friendly Recipes
Unsure what kind of safe foods you should pack? The holiday season is a great time to try out new recipes and discover delicious allergy-friendly alternatives. Look for recipes that are free from the allergens you need to avoid and experiment with different ingredients and flavors. From dairy-free desserts to gluten-free side dishes, you can find a variety of options to suit your dietary needs. Free2b Baking and Melting Wafers are a great allergen-free option for any of your baking needs. Check out our collection of recipes for more ways to use our products in your holiday desserts! Get creative and embrace the opportunity to explore new dishes.
8. Don’t Forget Your Medication
Accidents can happen, even with the best precautions in place. Make it a habit to double-check that you have your medicine before leaving the house to celebrate. Whether it’s an Epi-Pen, an inhaler, or a bottle of antihistamines, keep it on hand in case of emergency. If you’d like, educate those around you about the symptoms of a reaction and how to administer your medication. You’ll feel so much safer knowing you have a backup if you need it. And don’t forget - your meds are especially important when you’re traveling, so make sure they’re the first thing you pack!
9. Research Allergy-Friendly Restaurants
If you’re traveling to a new city or prefer dining out during the holidays, do your research. Find allergy-friendly restaurants in the area ahead of time so you know your options. Many restaurants now offer special menus for those with food allergies. Check their websites or call ahead to inquire about their allergen policies and accommodations. Advocate for yourself and communicate your needs to the restaurant staff to have a worry-free dining experience.
10. Focus on the Joy of the Season
Last but not least, remember to focus on the joy of the holiday season. While managing food allergies can be challenging, it shouldn't overshadow the festivities and celebration. Embrace the opportunity to connect with loved ones, create new traditions, and cherish the moments that make this time of year so special.
By following these tips and being proactive in managing your food allergies, you can have a joyful and safe holiday season. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and there are resources and support available to help you navigate the challenges. Wishing you a happy and allergy-friendly holiday season!