Tips for Parents: Navigating the Holidays with Food Allergies

Tips for Parents: Navigating the Holidays with Food Allergies

tips for kids with allergies

Learning your child has a severe and life-threatening food allergy is incredibly frightening. You want to protect them from eating anything that could potentially cause them harm. Still, it’s the holiday season and everyone wants to be able to enjoy themselves and celebrate. Come winter, invitations to parties and big meals with friends and family start rolling in. But how do you have fun and celebrate safely when your kids have allergies and every buffet table is a potential trip to the emergency room?

Here are some tips and resources to help you navigate a holiday party, share knowledge with loved ones and make gathering when your kids have allergies a safe experience.

Stay Safe at Gatherings
If there is the chance of cross-contamination, stay away from it. “Allergies are so child specific. When I start to question whether or not it’s OK to give [my daughter] something which could’ve been cross-contaminated because so many other people do, I remember our allergist told us to stay away from anything you think might be cross-contaminated,” says Rebecca of Stow, the mother of a daughter newly diagnosed with a tree nut allergy.

If you’re hosting a gathering, label foods as “egg-free” or “made with nuts” with little signs so partygoers with allergies know what they can and cannot eat.

As children get older, encourage kids with allergies to ask about the ingredients. This is a great way to safely encourage independence and practice self-advocacy.

Share Knowledge with Friends and Family
The organization Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE) publishes various food allergy statistics in an easy-to-read fashion. Educate yourself and close friends and family to help your child have fun and remain safe in all settings.

Visit websites and share cookbooks to find new, allergy-free options and share them with your loved ones. You can search for allergen-free recipes and select top allergens like milk, peanut, egg, soy, wheat, fish, sesame, etc. at kidswithfoodallergies.org

Vegan and dairy-free blogs have a lot of great recipes and resources.

On the Yummly app, you can filter recipes for food allergies to find safe favorite holiday recipes; the Allergy Eats app is another favorite.

Gain New Skills as an Allergy-Free Parent and Come Prepared, Just in Case
Sharpen your allergy culinary techniques to avoid cross-contamination with online tutorials. YouTube has helpful videos.

Tap into local community resources for knowledge and support. Dr. Abigail Glick knows what it’s like to be a mom of kids who have food allergies. Drawing from her firsthand experience, she founded and is the director of Northeast Ohio Food Allergy Network (neofan.org), with the mission to minimize the impact of food allergies in families’ lives.

Check out packaged snack and food options sold online and locally at enjoylifefoods.com. Bring these options along and you’ll come prepared to holiday parties.

Allergy-Friendly Spritz Cookies Recipe

allergy cookie recipe*This recipe is free of milk, peanut, egg, soy, tree nut, gluten, wheat, fish, shellfish, sesame

Makes:

12 dozen bite-sized cookies

Ingredients:

4 cups margarine (can substitute butter, soy-free spread, coconut spread)
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour (substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour mix)
½ tsp salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix margarine and sugar until creamy.

In a separate bowl, mix together water, oil and baking powder (this becomes an egg substitute). Gradually add egg substitute to margarine/sugar mixture. Next, add vanilla.

Slowly mix in the flour and salt mixture one cup at a time, until well combined and dough is a thick, but not too sticky, consistency.

Load dough into a cookie press.

Press out dough according to manufacturer’s instructions.

You can color the dough green for Christmas trees and wreaths. Add safe sprinkles, sugars or chocolate chips placed neatly on top before baking. You can drizzle melted safe chocolate after baking, too.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms start to brown slightly. Cool and store in an airtight container. Cookies may be frozen.

Created By: Jillian Dalton;
Recipe courtesy of Kids With
Food Allergies, kidswithfoodallergies.org/recipes

About the author

Michelle Dickstein is a full-time working mom of three. Her passions include food, family vacations, and helping others live their best lives. You can read more from her at emailingwithmygirlfriends.com or northeastohioparent.com/bloggers.

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