In my last post, I talked about some ideas for how to handle the holidays if you are hosting someone with food allergies, specifically peanut/tree nut. Today I wanted to share a couple thoughts on how to handle this from the other side, if you are the parent of a child who has an allergy. And as always, if you have any questions about your food allergies or cooking for someone with a food allergy, please consult a doctor, this is only my advice based on my personal experience and I am not a physician.
Holiday Tips for Parents of Kids with Food Allergies
1. Don’t be afraid to talk about it!
I think one of the hardest things that Aa and I have had to learn is to stop worrying so much about inconveniencing and annoying people with our food allergy needs. O’s safety needs to be our #1 priority, no matter what. And you know what? The vast majority of people have been nothing but kind and understanding.
2. Don’t assume other people know what to do!
We go to the same party at the same house every year. And although I know our hosts are very very careful, I still always check in ahead of time to make sure that it’s at the forefront of their thoughts and to remind them they can ask me if they have any questions. It’s also helpful to have a little lesson on label reading!
3. Learn to Bake!
This is the #1 best thing you can do to avoid problems, bring your own special treats. Because the risk of cross contamination for nuts is so high with baked goods, if you bring your own safe items, there will be something your kids know they can eat and they’re less likely to try and grab something else. I’m lucky that I don’t hate baking, but if you do, there are some great food allergy friendly cookies and baking mixes out there. Enjoy Life and Lucy’s cookies are great and Cherrybrook Kitchen baking mixes are delicious and easy, to name a few.
4. Talk about it with your kids ahead of time!
Remind them that there will be unfamiliar foods at the party and remind them to ask a trusted adult if food is safe before they eat it. For us, that means we tell O that he can ask me, Aa, or grandma or grandpa.
5. Go in the kitchen and help!
And while you’re there, snoop around a little bit. Read some labels, look for unsafe things and keep your eyes peeled for things that are ok to eat! For example, one year at a party, I went into the kitchen and noticed that the spaghetti sauce was from the prepared foods section of a grocery store. Now while spaghetti sauce, in general, is not usually a very dangerous food, because this came from the prepared foods area, it did not list the ingredients. Nor could I be sure that it was prepared in a nut free area. So then I knew that O should eat his noodles plain. No big deal but nice that I was able to catch that ahead of time. And it sparked a good discussion about why it wasn’t safe.
6. When in doubt, go without!
That’s our motto, if you’re not sure, don’t eat it. Don’t worry about being polite. Just don’t risk it. And make sure to always pack some extra snacks that you know your little one likes just in case.