Holiday Safety Tips for Food Allergies

Holiday Safety Tips for Food Allergies

by Stacey Stratton, Guest Blogger
Courtesy of Peanut-Free Zone

Holiday gatherings are usually filled with family, friends – and food. Keep the fun and avoid potential dangers with these tips from Stacey Stratton, food allergy author and blogger.

Dinner at your house:

  • Thank guests for coming and let them know how excited you are to see them.
  • Plan out in advance what others will bring. Assign dishes that are less likely to contain the allergen.
  • Are they buying the item or making from scratch? Recommend using certain brands that are safe and discuss label reading.
  • Have them take a picture of the label and text/email if they need help. Of course this might not work for Great Aunt Martha who refuses to use a cell phone (although our 99 ½-year-old grandma uses her cell phone daily!)
  • Gently but thoroughly go over food safety and cross-contamination.
  • Be in charge of all the baking to reduce any issues.
  • Remind them to not bring any nuts (or the allergen), unsafe candy, baked goods, etc.

 Dinner at a family member’s or friend’s house:

  • Thank them for hosting and let them know how excited you are to see them.
  • Contact or have them contact everyone and politely ask/remind that they don’t bring any unsafe items.
  • Offer to go a little early and help (aka clean and put all unsafe items away).
  • Offer to help them cook the food.
  • Feed your child a snack before you go so they’re less tempted to grab food when your aren’t watching.
  • Bring separate items you know are safe for your child to eat.
  • Remind your child about not eating anything that you haven’t OK’d.

Do you have family members who just don’t “get it”?

  • Try the “sugar wrapping” technique below.
  • Have a heart-to-heart with them about the seriousness of the allergy and share stories of fatal reactions.
  • Let them know how their behavior makes you feel.
  • Offer to help them carry in the dish and then accidentally slip on the ice. “Oh no….there goes the sweet potato & nut casserole!”

But seriously, this isn’t a subject that should be lightly discussed, and having foods around your child that can cause a fatal reaction is not a gamble you should ever feel you have to take.

If they still insist on bringing unsafe items and ignore what you’re asking for your child’s safety, reconsider when and where you spend time with them. Yes, I just said that. Only you know what is best for you and your child.

This is especially important when you have a young child that gets into everything. Once they’re older, you’ll be able to teach them more about food safety and know that they have a better understanding to stay safe. But until then, avoid the negativity and find a more positive environment to spend your holiday. You can always find a shelter, nursing home, or community event that would love to have you spend the day with them…allergies and all.

Sugar Wrapping

Always use a positive, negative, positive when dealing with issues that others might get touchy over. What that means is you should “sugar wrap” subjects that might offend others by wrapping them with compliments.

For example: “Hi Jane. We can’t wait to see you on Thursday! What did you decide on bringing? Oh cupcakes sound like a wonderful idea. Are you making them or buying them? You’re planning on getting them from ABC Bakery? Wow, I really love your idea of cupcakes….but ABC Bakery uses nuts and Jake won’t be able to eat the cupcakes. Is there any way that you could get them from DEF Bakery? I know it’s a little farther of a drive for you, but it would really make Jake so happy to have safe cupcakes that he can eat! He’s going to be excited to see his Auntie, but bringing him DEF Bakery will probably earn you the Auntie of the Year Award!”

That’s better than, “Hi Jane, what are you planning on bringing Thursday? Cupcakes? You need to make sure they are safe. What bakery are you going to? Oh you can’t use that bakery, they use nuts, and we don’t want those cupcakes in the house. If you want to bring cupcakes, you’ll need to get them from DEF Bakery or some other safe bakery.”

The first example makes them feel encouraged and want to help accommodate. The second example makes them feel deflated and puts them on the defense.

Try it…this method is pretty powerful! You might want to even try it on your spouse to get that “to do” list a little closer “to done”!

Wishing you a Safe and Happy Holiday!