For me, like many others, I’m sure one of your absolute favourite things about the festive season is FOOD! The snacks, the chocolate, the party food and even the Christmas dinner itself. But what if you have a food allergy? What if you’re hosting someone with a food allergy?
Whilst it is a very important topic, it doesn’t have to ruin or increase anxiety and it definitely doesn’t have to spoil Christmas!
So, what are food allergies?
If you don’t know by now, food allergies are a pretty big thing, affecting 4 in 10 of us in the UK (Allergy UK source), including myself!
I know how hard it can be eating out and buying food, but I also know how to host, serve and cater for allergies due to own personal experience, my future role as a Dietitian and my part time job as a waitress.
If you’re the one with an allergy
• Carry your medication at all times, whether that be an epipen, antihistamines or other forms of tablets. You never know when an allergic reaction could strike and these things can save your life!
• Don’t be afraid of foods and eat whatever you’d like, but don’t be afraid to ask questions to the cook or ask to read the packets! People won’t find you a burden, it’s for the sake of your health and I’m pretty sure they’d like to swerve a disaster too.
Don’t worry! Follow the rules, inform your hosts and have a good time!!
If you’re hosting
• Label your foods where you can! Little cocktail sticks with bits of card on labelled with the name of the item, the ingredients and if you can (and know what they are), the allergens. They are not only safe but look very cute too!
• Talk to your guests – make sure you know what and who you are catering for and ask if anyone has an dietary requirements. Whilst it can be hard catering for everyone, you can make simple tricks such as placing a “nut free rule” on the whole spread, then other dietary requirements will come easier. Try to always have a veggie option, even just sandwiches and vegetables too.
• Avoid cross contamination – this is SO crucial and overlooked by both businesses and home cooks too! When catering ALWAYS make sure than allergens and foods are all prepared separately, with washing equipment in between. Separate coloured knives and chopping boards really help here. It’s not just good practice and health and safety, but it saves lives! Same goes for meat, you can’t prepare raw meat then fresh veg on the same board, can you?
• Relax! Make sure you’ve followed safety rules and answer any questions you guests may have. They’re not being awkward, it’s just for their own health. Don’t take offence and enjoy the night!
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.