Wining & Dining
Dealing with Food Allergies During the Holidays
11/1/2019 11:00:00 AM

Food Allergies

The holiday season is a festive time but can present unique challenges for those with food allergies—whether you are a host or guest – as many of the top food allergens appear throughout the meal.

"Some common allergens found in traditional holiday food items are gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts,” said Dr. Bridget Loehn, ENT and Allergy Specialist with Imperial Health. She added that most people would be surprised by how many traditional holiday favorites contain these allergens, such as: 

  • Self-Basting Turkey: soy, gluten, dairy
  • Green Bean Casserole: dairy, gluten
  • Sauces and Salad Dressings: fish, shellfish, eggs
  • Sweet Potato Casserole: dairy, nuts
  • Pies: dairy, gluten, nuts
  • Holiday Cookies: gluten, nuts, dairy, eggs

To alleviate worry and make this season’s holiday feasts fun and safe from allergies for everyone, Dr. Loehn offers the following suggestions: 

Communication is key: Communicate in advance with those attending gatherings to find out if anyone has a food allergy and alter the menu accordingly. If you are sending out evites or printed invitations, consider including an option to allow guests to list any food allergies and sensitivities they may have.

RSVP—ASAP:  Be a great guest by contacting the host as soon as possible to discuss your concerns about food allergens and how you can best create a safe environment. 

Prepare food safely: When cooking, prepare and store allergy-friendly meals separately from the rest of the dishes. Before beginning food preparation, clean all equipment and utensils to remove any allergen trace. To prevent cross contamination, use separate cooking utensils and have separate cooking areas for each dish. 

Allow those with food allergies to go first:  Before opening the serving line or passing around serving dishes, allow guests with food allergies to fix their plates first. This helps prevent cross contamination.

Throw a potluck: As a host, it might be overwhelming to try to cater to everyone’s dietary needs. An easy solution is to ask each guest to bring their favorite dish to the party. This ensures every guest will be able to eat at least one dish. Encourage guests to display their recipe next to their dish so other guests can inspect the ingredients. This is a fun way to identify allergens without drawing attention to those who have food sensitivities. 

Plan a non-food party:  Consider mixing things up and inviting friends and family to an outing, such as going to see a holiday movie. Those with food allergies might be more comfortable at these types of events because they can eat beforehand. Also, drinks are often allergy friendly as you can purchase a variety of alternative options such as soy, coconut, gluten and dairy free options. 

Bring medication: For those with a prescription for an epinephrine injection for anaphylaxis, always have it with you and let others know how to administer it should you have an allergy attack.

For more information about managing food allergies, call Dr. Loehn to schedule an appointment at (337) 419-1960. 



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