Surviving Christmas feasts with food allergies

By Lindsay Adams
Dec. 20, 2016 at midnight
Updated Dec. 21, 2016 at 6 a.m.

Lindsay Adams

Lindsay Adams   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

While holiday feasts and treats are an exciting part of Christmas for many, they may also bring anxiety to individuals with food allergies. Whether it is you, your child, or your guests that have the allergy, here are some tips to prepare a great holiday meal without inciting an allergic reaction.

First of all, you may choose to host the holiday celebration at your home. This is likely the safest option, because you can best know what is served. Prepare dishes free from the necessary allergens and if others are helping you cook, let them know about the allergy. If you do serve some foods that contain the allergen, it is best to keep them in a separate area to avoid cross-contamination.

Next, try to focus on serving minimally processed foods rather than complex casseroles that increase the number of ingredients, and therefore possible allergens. For example, a menu of simple foods, such as roasted veggies with olive oils and seasonings, whole grain rice pilaf, fresh fruit salads, along with your turkey or ham, provide a healthy assortment of food with minimal ingredients.

Third, make appropriate food substitutions to avoid allergens. Use gluten-free flours instead of wheat flour if someone has a gluten intolerance. Ground flaxseeds and applesauce can be used in place of eggs. Sunflower butter can replace peanut butter. You can also substitute non-dairy drinks, such as almond or soy milk, in place of cow's milk, if someone has a milk allergy.

Always remember to read the food label on purchased items as manufacturers do change ingredients from time to time. A once safe food, may no longer be safe. Also, always encourage hand-washing to prevent cross contamination of allergens and bacteria.

If you cannot host your celebration at home, offer to help. You can at least provide several dishes that you know will be safe for you or your child. If you are unable to prepare any dishes, be sure to bring allergen-free snacks so you don't end up having to go hungry.

Overall, just remember, communication is key. Inform others of the reactions that may take place if the allergen is consumed. If someone who has a food allergy is coming to your home, remember that they are not being impolite by not eating all of the foods available.

Food allergies can be a very serious matter and an adverse reaction could surely lead to a not-so-merry Christmas.

Lindsay Adams is a registered dietitian with. Detar Healthcare Systems. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com


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