The holiday season is often a festive time spent with loved ones. While this holiday season is different from those in the past years, individuals who have food allergies still face unique challenges. Navigating food allergies during the holidays can be difficult, as many holiday foods contain at least one of the top eight allergens, such as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, and shellfish.
Even a small amount of an allergen can cause a person with severe allergies to go into anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction. This is why it is important that you are extremely cautious around the holidays if you or your child have a food allergy.
Tips for avoiding food allergies during the holiday season
From traditional holiday side dishes to cookies galore, you may feel overwhelmed at what you can and can’t consume at the next holiday dinner. Here are some tips that can help you navigate holiday meals with a food allergy:
Before you make your way to the buffet table, be sure the host is aware of your food allergy. Ask about the ingredients used in each dish you’re interested in tasting.
Make sure the host is informed that if you have severe allergies, even trace amounts can cause a reaction. This means that any surfaces that have been touched by certain foods should be thoroughly cleaned.
Bring your own dish
To avoid eating a dish that may have a common food allergen ingredient in it, such as eggs, milk, or peanuts, bring your own dish. This way you are fully aware of the ingredients in a certain dish and you can share with others who may also have a food allergy.
Check out these allergy-free holiday recipes to get some ideas!
Bring your medication
You should always carry your epinephrine injector wherever you go, especially during a holiday celebration that involves an abundance of food. Reactions can be unpredictable and can escalate quickly, so it is crucial that you carry your epinephrine injector in case of an emergency.
Eat before the event
If being surrounded by all the holiday dishes causes you stress, have a meal in advance of the gathering so you don’t have to worry about having a reaction. Doing so may also help avoid temptation to try new foods you are uncertain about.
Get an allergy test
With the help of an allergist, you can avoid and control your symptoms with a major improvement in your quality of life. The first thing an allergist will want to do is perform tests to determine what allergens affect you specifically. Once that is addressed, they will develop a treatment plan for your individual condition with the goal of you living symptom-free!
At Northeast Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, we can discover hidden allergens and provide additional treatments, including peanut desensitization and more, to help you feel your best. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.