HomeCommunity speaks out: Tips for an allergy-safe holiday

Community speaks out: Tips for an allergy-safe holiday

December 13, 2019

Happy funny marshmallow snowmans on snow

‘Tis the season for family, friends, and food! If you have a food allergy, this time of year can be overwhelming as holiday parties and gatherings often involve food. By planning ahead and communicating with hosts, you can stay safe and prevent reactions while celebrating.

We asked members of our community to share their top tips for managing food allergy during the holidays, when at parties or hosting others with food allergy. Below you will find tips from our Youth Advisory Panel, and other community members including parents, siblings and friends.

Tips from our Youth Advisory Panel:

Members of our Youth Advisory Panel
Members of our Youth Advisory Panel
  1. Volunteer to bring the dessert! ‘Tis the season for baking, and baked goods aren’t usually accompanied by ingredients. If you want an option that you know will be safe, bring it yourself! It’s also so much fun to bake.
  2. Ask your host questions about the food they will be preparing in advance. Remind them about your food allergies and how they can create a safe meal for you. This way, you’ll feel more comfortable at the celebration knowing that they took the necessary precautions. 
  3. Give yourself peace of mind and remind your family and friends on how to use your auto-injector and where you keep it in case of an emergency.
  4. Never eat anything you don’t feel comfortable eating, even if it upsets your hosts. Eat safe food in advance so you aren’t too hungry and don’t feel tempted to eat a possibly unsafe food!
  5. Build homemade gingerbread houses with your friends and family! These are great, specifically for the holidays and for those with food allergy, because:
    • You can customize the gingerbread recipe according to your allergen accommodations
    • When you assemble it, you can personalize your portion of the gingerbread to ensure allergens are left out (particular candies, chocolate, icing, etc.), and it still remains an inclusive activity
    • It is FUN and tasty!

Tips from parents and siblings:

  1. Look out for your family member with food allergy!
    • Double check they have their auto-injector with them and know where they keep it. Our rule of thumb: no auto-injector means no food.
    • Review the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, and know how to treat a reaction in case of an emergency.
  2. Label your drink with your name so no one else drinks from it.
  3. Take extra precautions – if you’re unsure what’s in the food, ask before you eat it.
  4. If you’re hosting, set aside a safe dish for your guest with food allergy, or let them get their food first.

Tips from friends who are hosting a friend with food allergy:

Teen boy cooking
  1. Read ingredient labels carefully and thoroughly and do the triple check. If you’re unsure, ask your guest to also check the ingredients – send them a photo of the label so they can read it ahead of time.
  2. Stay away from bulk foods to avoid cross-contamination. Stick to the brands you know your guest has had safely in the past and make sure to check the ingredients again for any changes.
  3. Make homemade foods so you know the exact ingredients you’re using, then share a list of the ingredients with them.
  4. Thoroughly clean counter tops, dishware and utensils before preparing a meal to ensure there is no risk of cross-contamination.
  5. Ask your guest what they can and can’t eat! It will help you think of meal ideas too.
  6. If you feel uncomfortable at any point in cooking for a friend with a food allergy, ask them to bring their own meal to ensure they have a safe option!

Follow these tips and share with family and friends to ensure a safe holiday for all!

Plus, learn more helpful tips on navigating food allergy confidently in our holiday section at foodallergycanada.ca/holiday. Have a safe and merry holiday!

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