Hosting a large group of people, some of which have very different, and very specific food limitations? Or maybe you have a food allergy, and attending large gatherings and meals is intimidating when others do not understand the nature of the allergy or restriction. Here are a few tips for both sides to navigate and enjoy this season with ease.
Host: Label allergy-friendly foods.
As the host, whether you are making the whole meal or asking guests to potluck, have labels handy for the items that your guests with food allergies can eat. Always make sure to check that the dish is indeed free of the specific allergen, especially if someone else made it.
Guest: Bring a dish.
If you know your host and family will not be able to easily accommodate your allergy, or you are unsure of the offerings available to you, offer to bring a dish. Make it something hearty enough that you can enjoy that one item as your main meal if no other options are present. And while it should be something everyone can enjoy, it is okay to bring your favorite item.
Host: Pay attention to cross-contamination.
Some allergies are severe enough that using the same spatula or cooking surface, which leaves trace elements of foods behind, can be harmful and life-threatening to someone with a food allergy. It can be helpful to color code utensils or baking dishes to ensure that those items are only used on the safe foods being made and served.
Guest: Check In.
Not sure if your Aunt Celeste knows what gluten-free means and she offered to make you a gluten-free dessert? Check in with her before the event, and maybe suggest a few recipes, or get a feel for what she was planning on making. It can be hard to arrive somewhere and find out someone worked extra hard to make something you could enjoy, when in fact, it has an ingredient that isn’t safe. Be polite, but know it is okay to talk with family and friends in advance.
Navigating holiday events with children with food allergies? Make sure both the child and the guests are aware of the allergy. Family members may offer foods to a child without knowing it isn’t safe. Children may grab something that looks safe but has a hidden ingredient in it. Set rules and review them with everyone so that there is less of a chance of a problem.