These will be times that I can look back and reminisce on. The sounds of the children laughing in the next room, while the adults are in the kitchen prepping some of the family’s favorite dishes for tomorrow’s dinner. I watch as my mom add the last of her ingredients to her infamous dressing for the turkey. My brother is reading back to her his list of ingredients to NOT add to the turkey that he is in charge of making this year. Mom says with firmness in her voice, “Remember, it’s important to make sure you don’t use peanut oil. We want Chop safe.” She then turns to me with a concentrated look to ask if I have all that she needs for the Allergy Friendly pound cake. Yummy! We can’t wait to indulge into it.
I am grateful for my family. My mom is so loving and thoughtful of my little guy, her grandson. Not only is it important to me and my husband that our son is safe with foods, but it is also important to our loved ones that he is happy, included and enjoy our holiday feast without any food allergy-related incidences. We count our blessings, because we understand that not everyone is so fortunate!
The holidays can be a stressful time of the year for so many: Last minute items to gather from shopping lists, traffic, so much to do, but little time to complete all the many tasks. For families dealing with food allergies, there is sometimes the added stress of other members of the family clan forgetting to think of their loved ones with food allergies. It’s important to plan ahead when preparing for family holiday meals to ensure a good and safe time. Mommies and daddies, never feel uncomfortable speaking up for your child and advocating for his/her needs.
If you are a family member or friend hosting this year or you are someone managing food allergies, here are a few helpful tips to accommodate those with food allergies:
- DO contact the host ahead of time to discuss the menu. Offer allergy friendly alternatives/ingredients whenever possible.
- DO clearly label dishes that are NOT allergy friendly.
- DO check food labels and be sure that it does not contain allergens before preparing dishes.
- DO offer to bring your own allergy friendly dishes to share.
- DO emphasize the importance of not sharing serving spoons between dishes.
- DO remind your child (if old enough) the importance of not sharing food.
- DO keep an Epinephrine-Auto Injector (Epi-pen) Close by.
- NEVER ASSUME! DO NOT assume foods have traditional ingredients when serving. It is possible that they may not be safe. Always check your food labels to be sure.
Something that has been helpful for us is non-allergy foods in what I like to call the SAFE ROOM. In the safe room, foods that are safe for everyone with dietary restrictions are kept in a room separate from those that contain the known allergens. or unsafe foods. We also emphasize the importance of using a clean serving spoon each time or using only the spoon that is designated for each dish. Food allergies can be scary, but with some preparation and support, your family’s holiday can be a safe and joyous occasion this year. If you are doing the accommodating, your support and consideration will mean the world to your loved ones.
Be sure to tune in to The Soulful Dish podcast to hear Journey and Chop chat about what they are thankful for and how to include everyone at holiday gatherings. You can also tune in to an episode on Dietary Inclusiveness to hear cohosts Phylicia Carter and Tanisha Foster discuss accommodating various diets and tips on how to include everyone.