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Food Allergies and the Holiday Season

Full of big dinners and family gatherings, the holidays can be a challenging time for food allergy sufferers. So many homemade treats - without any ingredients labels! Food allergies can be challenging for hosts as well. You want to make dishes that will be delicious for everyone, making all your guests feel right at home. A guest with food allergies can be an extra challenge for planning that perfect meal. Whether you are a food allergy sufferer or you are simply hosting one, here are some tips for getting through the holidays while staying happy, healthy, and allergy free.

Tips for food allergy sufferers:

  • Make sure to alert your host to your food allergy as soon as possible. An advance polite warning may make meal planning easier, especially if you have tips to help out. And, it's best to just be upfront, avoiding hurt feelings at the dinner table.
  • Offer to bring an allergy-free dish or two, taking some of the load off the host and ensuring that there will be some safe foods available. It's standard guest etiquette, and the assurance of a safe dish will make both you and your host feel more comfortable. Plus, when it comes to the holidays and food, the more the merrier, right?
  • Inquire carefully about ingredients before trying any foods, even those that seem familiar. Holiday recipes are often full of "special ingredients" they might not normally include.
  • Food allergens can be hidden in lots of foods - baked treats and desserts, fancy dips, salads and salad dressings, quiches, casseroles. Don't let your willingness to try Aunt Margaret's favorite recipe overwhelm your good judgment - supportive family members will understand.

Tips for hosts of food allergy sufferers:

  • Be aware. There's nothing wrong with inquiring about possible food allergies in advance, and it may ease an uncomfortable situation for a guest who is reluctant to be a bother.
  • Be positive and creative. There are many substitutes for common food allergens, like wheat, dairy, and eggs. Look around, explore cookbooks, utilize resources. You might find that it is easier to create allergy-free dishes than you thought.
  • Keep a recipe or list of ingredients for each dish close at hand; that way you won't have to rely on memory to tell you whether or not a certain recipe had eggs in it.
  • Don't take it personally if your guests can't eat all your concoctions. In addition to food allergies, many people experience food intolerances - not life threatening, but still unpleasant.