The holiday season is my favourite time of year, but with newly diagnosed food allergies, it seems a little daunting to approach the never-ending slew of events whether it be an appetiser-filled party, potluck or the ultimate Christmas dinner.
This is my second Christmas with an anaphylactic soy allergy, and myself and my loved ones have gotten pretty good at making me feel just the same as everyone else and making allergy-safe alternatives. 😃
My philosophy is that you (or your child) should feel as normal as possible in these scenarios and that with the right planning, you can make it happen!
7 Hacks for navigating the holidays with food allergies
Contribute food to holiday parties when you can! Bring your own dish you know will be safe for you to eat, and share it! May we suggest top 8 free sweet potato mash with caramelised onions.
2. Holiday Meals
Have an allergy advocate that is also the chef in your family, teach them about your allergies, how to read labels, and what foods to avoid. If you’re lucky – they’ll make a completely allergy friendly spread that everyone can enjoy just the same, with only a few small tweaks.
Tip: be the first to take home leftovers, you deserve it!
3. Holiday baking & sweets
Plan ahead when it comes to holiday treats. Think about baking your own version of the best treats to eat around the holidays and bring them to share. For example, I love shortbreads and am making a soy-free version with my mom I will be eating the whole holiday season!
Tip: make sure you save a few extra treats for yourself than everyone else, because you can’t eat the other sweets and they can.
4. Gingerbread houses/ sweet decorating parties
Be the leader and plan your own gingerbread house/ decorating party where you can be in charge of the ingredients. Only put out ingredients that are safe for everyone, so nobody feels different. Even if some aspects need to be a little different, who cares!
5. Familiar Restaurants
The holiday season is the time to give thanks back to the restaurants you often frequent that accommodate you or your loved ones’ allergies. If you’re going to be visiting a favourite restaurant around the holidays, show up with a Thank you card or even a small gift for the staff!
Tip for Navigating Special Christmas menus: If a restaurant you normally visit has a special Christmas menu, avoid it unless you are super confident that you can eat it safely. Restaurants are busier around the holidays; staff may be more prone to mess up or tell you things are safe in a hurry. Be wary of eating brand new dishes at this busy time unless you have gotten adequate staff attention/ communication.
6. Unfamiliar Restaurants
When trying new places, make sure to chat with staff beforehand at non-peak hours, or bring your allergy card and arrive a little before peak hours to ensure adequate communication with staff.
Last Christmas this happened to me – the restaurant my family has Christmas dinner at would not accommodate my soy allergy. I made my own food and plated it there! Not the most ideal scenario – but I made it through Christmas without a reaction 😀
Tip: if a restaurant refuses to accommodate you for a family event or otherwise, do NOT force it. Do not eat anywhere you do not feel safe.
7. If all else fails…
Eat before you go, pack snacks and always have a backup plan.
Tip: some food places and even grocery stores may be closed on major holidays, so factor that into your backup planning.
→ You may also be interested in how to own the holiday with your food allergies! ←