Holidays are a great time to spend with friends and family. Food-focused holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Chinese New Year and other winter holiday celebrations, can create added stress for parents of children with food allergies. Try some of these ideas to take the precautions to avoid food allergy reactions during family meals and parties.
1. Use foods from allergy-aware companies. For peace of mind, use products from companies that you trust for their labeling and manufacturing processes. Avoid trying new foods during the holidays. If you want to introduce a new food, do it well before the actual holiday.
2. Freeze dishes ahead of time. Save yourself some time on the day of your holiday meal by preparing safe dishes ahead of time and freezing them. Holidays are a flurry of activity in the kitchen. Shop for and prepare dishes when you have lots of time to read labels. Stick them in the oven when you’re ready to bake them. Be sure to plan some extra cooking time if you bake them from frozen.
3. Pack a special meal just for your child. If you are going to someone else’s home, pack a special holiday meal for your child. Make it festive and holiday themed. Consider calling the host ahead of time to find out what will be served so you can make a similar meal for your child. Pack it in a microwavable-safe plate or in an insulated bag with hot packs to keep it warm.
4. Educate others to prevent cross contamination. The best way to prevent food allergy reactions is to avoid accidental contact with your child’s food allergens. Even traces can cause a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis). Make sure everyone who prepares, handles and serves food that your child will eat knows how to prevent cross contamination.
5. Practice new recipes or substitutes ahead of time. If you’re new to food allergies, or are trying new recipes or substitutes, test them out before your holiday event. This will help you know ahead of time if your dish will be a success or if it needs tweaks. Visit our Safe Eats® database for allergy-friendly recipes. You can search to meet your child’s dietary needs or browse by category. Try these some of these holiday favorites:
- Gravy without butter or wheat flour
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes without milk or soy
- Bread options for your table or stuffing
- Stuffing options without bread
- Mom's Pumpkin Pie without milk, egg and soy
- Pie Crust options without milk, egg and wheat
- Apple Crisp with milk and wheat free options
Updated November 2018