With one out of thirteen children currently being diagnosed, by specialists like Alidina Laila MD, with a food allergy and that number on the rise, chances are someone you know has a food allergy. With the holidays around the corner and family dinners on the calendar, it is important to seriously consider not only your menu and decorations, but also how to feed everyone safely.
If you have a friend or family member who suffers from a food allergy (or allergies), it is important to understand exactly what that allergy consists of and what you need to avoid. If a child is severely allergic to peanuts, even peanut-free items that have been manufactured in a plant that processes peanuts can cause an issue, as can food that has been cooked in peanut oil.
For those with the severest of allergies, simply being in the same room and breathing in cross-contaminated air or being touched by someone who has recently touched an allergen is enough to cause a life-threatening reaction, so it is imperative you can ensure that no allergens are around.
Ask about signs and symptoms to watch out for. Chances are a child's parents won't be far from their side, especially with unfamiliar food in abundance, but sometimes accidents happen. Learn how to use an EpiPen and ask for one to keep in your home so you are always prepared.
Gluten, which causes serious issues for those who have Celiac disease, can be found in a variety of foods that may not even cross your mind. It is important to read the labels of all the ingredients you use, even the ones you would think of as safe. You should also save the labels of the ingredients you use so that parents can review them.
If you are having your meal catered, speak to the restaurant or store you are ordering your food from first-hand. Ask if they have documentation of the ingredients in the food and if they can guarantee it allergy-free. Many times food is prepped elsewhere and delivered to stores already made. If they cannot provide you with in-depth ingredients and preparation documentation, it may be better to plan a separate meal for anyone with allergies, or simply cook a meal yourself.
Family gatherings can be a very strong component to your holiday traditions. It is important to ensure that your loved one feels included and welcomed despite the extra steps it may take to ensure their safety.