Surviving The Holidays With Severe Food Allergies
This month, I want to share tips and ideas with you regarding food allergies and holidays. For most people, the holiday season means lots of travel, and meals with others. There’s also the class parties to think about. In our case, we have those with mild allergies, moderate, and severe. I’ll be sharing ideas that are geared towards those with moderate to severe allergies.
1. BREATHE. Don’t panic, and whatever you do, DO NOT think about the long list of things you’ll need to accomplish. This may sound crazy coming from a highly organized person like myself, but the reality is, if you focus on everything all the time, you’ll burn yourself out. You will find it hard to appreciate and enjoy the holiday season.
The solution: Keep a master list.
I like to keep one HUGE running list of every little thing that needs to be done. I try to group items by type, and deadline. From there, I can assign myself smaller, much more manageable, chunks daily.
2. SILVERWARE. Bring your own. It’s nice that cousin Sally asked about your allergy, and made sure there’s something for you to drink. However, does cousin Sally have a high temperature dishwasher? If she does her dishes by hand, are those sponges or wash rags shared with your allergen? Most likely, yes.
3. PLATE/BOWLS/CUPS. Bring your own. Again, it’s wonderful that you will be getting together with family, and I’m not trying to be a negative nelly, but do you trust them with your life? For example, if you have a severe peanut allergy and eat from a shared plate with residue because of a poorly washed dish… how will you feel? I find the easiest way to give yourself peace of mind is to bring your own items from home.
4. BAKING DISHES & FOIL. Don’t forget to bring these items too. Some of us have allergies so severe that we can’t used a shared oven. You can bring your own bakeware from home, and double or triple wrap it in foil before reheating in a loved one’s oven. The same applies to serving spoons etc. Remember, non-stick remembers, and wood is porous.
5. DISPOSABLE PLATES ETC. If you have a severe corn allergy, remember, you can’t trust the disposable items in the store. Bring what you normally use from home, and have a few bags for transporting dirty items home. Don’t wash them at your loved one’s house, because you won’t know if the soaps are safe for you.
6. COMMUNICATE. This is especially important if you’re going to a large family gathering. Let’s face it, not everyone understands what a food allergy is, or all of the little details. You may tell Grandma Jo that your son has a dairy allergy, and she may, out of love, offer him egg nog. There’s no milk in that, right? It’s much better if everyone is on the same page. Simply request up front that no one offer your child food, and if they see your child taking food from anyone but you, to stop them. Simple, right?
7. FOOD SAFETY. If you will be traveling long distances, make sure you keep your food at safe temperatures. If this will be your first time traveling, invest in a good cooler and ice packs. You may also want dry ice.
8. FLIGHTS. If you’re flying, you can consider shipping your food ahead. It does work, but it will be a little pricey. You’ll have to use overnight shipping, and invest in the right shipping containers and ice packs. Expect to spend at least $40 on shipping, depending on how much food you’re sending. Make sure there are clear instructions for who ever will be receiving the food on the other end. Also, don’t forget that you CAN bring food with you. People with severe food allergies cannot be denied the right to bring safe food with them on a flight. Remember to communicate your needs when booking your flight, and when you arrive to the airport.
9. LAUNDRY DETERGENT. This is an easy one to forget. If you’ll be staying somewhere for an extended amount of time, make sure you have the proper cleaning supplies that are safe for you. The last thing you want are skin reactions when you’re supposed to be having a good time.
10. HAVE FUN. Isn’t that the whole point of all of this? It’s so easy for us to caught up in the little details and forget to relax. Make sure you add relax to your list if you’re like me.
That’s it! These are my top ten tips for surviving the holidays while maintaining some peace of mind. If you have questions or need more tips, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always here to help.