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Surviving the Holidays with Food Allergies

survive holiday food allergiesHolidays center around gatherings with friends and family. Parties abound and the kitchen is busier than ever. When you have food allergies, holidays bring an extra layer of stress. I have a few tips to help!

1. Bring your own food.

The ONLY way to ensure you know exactly what is going into your body is to prepare the food yourself. Salads are generally safe and it’s easy to tell the ingredients, as long as the dressing is not already added. For dinner parties (pot luck style) I bring a satisfying dish I can eat. And that’s all I eat. Also, I either make sure I’m first in line, or set a plate of my safe food aside to ensure I get the dish I brought!

2. Plan

Planning is the key. Know what is going on during all events. Keep your pantry stocked with foods you can eat, or grab and go. Before we go out of town, I find nearby grocery stores. We often stop before we arrive to stock up on safe foods we didn’t bring.

3. Call ahead

If you want to call ahead to find ingredients, call ahead, but make sure it’s in plenty of time in case the hostess wants to make something you can eat. I always say something along the lines of, “I’m curious about the menu because of food allergies, but don’t want you to go through any extra trouble.” If I find out it’s something I can’t eat, I explain that I’ll probably bring my own food. My allergies are so extensive, I don’t expect anyone to go through the process of learning to cook what I can eat.

4. Eat before you go

If you arrive hungry, it’s tempting to eat something that might cause a reaction. I also find myself grouchy or emotional when I go somewhere hungry only to find I can only eat ONE thing. If I’m not hungry, it doesn’t bother me (as much).

5. For out of town events – cook ahead

I bring a cooler filled with frozen meals that match what my family is eating. That way I’m not as different. I also bring food for the restaurants I know don’t have much I can eat. I eat on the way – in the car – then snack on a salad or a safe menu item while at the restaurant. That takes planning! For unexpected restaurant stops, my husband stops by the grocery store on the way and I bring something safe into the restaurant.  More tips for travelling with food restrictions.

6. Smile through it all

Your attitude makes the difference. When a waiter tells you 99% of the menu is unavailable due to your allergies, be thankful for the 1%. When you are hungry and feel yourself becoming grouchy or emotional, find that inner strength and know food is only a part of the holidays.

Above all, enjoy your time with friends and family.

Merry Christmas!

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