Navigating the Holidays with Food Allergies


by Caroline Moassessi, FAACT’s Vice President of Community Relations

Once again, this holiday season will look, feel, and possibly taste different. Yet we’ve become masters of pivoting thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. One silver lining may be our newfound skills of slowing down and looking inward for peace, calm, and solutions. As emotions and pandemic fatigue weigh heavy on our nation, our hearts and love for family pulse deeply. With a bit of preplanning and commitment to taking care of ourselves, our needs, and our loved ones, a great holiday season awaits us all.

Start with you. How is your self-care plan working for you? If you do not have a plan, today is the best day to create one. Airlines instruct us to put on our masks before helping others. The same theory works on the ground. Are you up for the challenge of hosting, cooking, or traveling? If not, share your needs while placing your physical and mental health as a priority. Drop by FAACT’s Behavioral Health Resource Center to find tips on self-care, coping with anxiety, and stress management. 

Rethink traditions. Many of us are feeling the burnout of the pandemic. Could this be the year to put a twist on your usual traditions? Instead of one or two people rising early to prepare a feast, can the whole family create a special meal together? Could you replace a large dinner with a family hike or hot chocolate by an outdoor fire pit instead?

Write it down. Create a holiday checklist of each event and to-dos. Writing down what needs to be done will give you an honest glimpse into whether you are trying to do too much or too little. If the list is too long, enlist help by including children and others in preparing for events.

Re-educate. It’s been a while since we’ve been together anywhere other than a computer screen, and your family and friends might have forgotten which allergens your family needs to avoid. Bring your patience and dose of compassion to grandma’s house as you “refresh” everyone with your family’s food allergy management style and rules, including label-reading tips. Better yet, call ahead or email them information from FAACT’s Education Resource Center.

BYOF: Skip the sweat of supervising someone else’s kitchen and Bring Your Own Food. My family recently enjoyed this style of entertaining with old family friends. We brought our food so we could enjoy being together, focusing on the people, not the food. Or consider bringing a few safe dishes for everyone to enjoy together. Discover new holiday recipes in FAACT’s Pinterest Collection, and don’t miss our Cultural Allergy-Friendly Recipes.

Plan careful conversations. If you need to break the bad news that you are not traveling or hosting, prepare yourself for a potentially challenging conversation. Plan out the conversation and role play with a friend if needed. Set your boundaries with the love and firmness of a momma or papa bear protecting their family. Find peace in knowing that you can say no when it is needed the most.

Fill your glass. Now is a great time to shift focus to gratitude and the positive in your life. Play the gratitude game when things feel overwhelming. My family will pause and share three items we are grateful for in that very minute, such as fuzzy socks, a tasty dinner, or a good night’s sleep. Pour gratitude in your glass of oat milk each morning for an extra flavor of uplifting your spirit.

Whatever your situation may be, remember that the world can be tricky yet full of love. Thankfully, the love and warmth of our family and friends fill our hearts every day and make each holiday special.

Visit FAACT's holiday section for more holiday tips!

We wish everyone a healthy, safe, and happy holiday season!