You walk into a house that isn’t yours. You have arrived at a holiday party, and there is a lot of food. Food is the way many people show love (think of all those cookies you receive!). You hang up your coat, and then greet your hosts, friends, and family. You are offered a variety of drinks, and choose something you like to keep your mouth moist as you talk. After some chatting, you become hungry, so you walk over to the spread of food.

On the table(s), there are glazed sugar cookies, decorated gingerbread, fudge, salmon and crackers, ham, roast beef and cheese with sandwich buns, shrimp and cocktail sauce, chili, cheese and crackers, a bowl of dried fruits, some roasted nuts in a bowl, and some raw veggies with a dip. It’s a lot of food!

What do you do? What food allergies/intolerances do you cope with? If you are allergic to tree nuts and peanuts, the very fact that there are nuts in the room might preclude you from staying – there’s a high chance of cross-contamination. Plus, you need to check ingredients – some people even add peanut butter to chili! If you have celiac disease, you might have cross-contamination problems from the crackers and bread, and there would be questions about almost every other food – wheat can be a binder in dip mix, an ingredient in roasted nuts, and used to keep dried fruit from sticking together, just to name a few. If you are avoiding dairy or any of the other top 8 allergens, you would likewise have to ask questions about almost everything, as well. Are the hosts prepared to deal with those questions?

Walking into this party would be difficult for an adult. Now imagine if you are a child, having to ask which foods are safe for you to eat. You have to trust the words of the adults, because you might not be old enough to read labels yourself. If you are lucky, some of the treats are designed to be acceptable to your allergies, because the party’s hosts know about them. If you’re even luckier, your parents brought extra snacks to make up for the food you can’t eat. Add in the fact that this is happening at just about every home your child visits over the holiday season, and by the end of December, they could be completely overwhelmed.

I try to make candies and cookies during this time of year. Not only because it’s festive, but also to make sure that the kids have plenty of treats during a time that is filled with treats for everyone else, but when they often have to forgo the offerings of food.

My girls are great about checking to find out if a food is acceptable for our dietary restrictions. However, when a great-grandmother with some mild memory problems keeps offering cookies, it makes me want to just eat them and damn the consequences. If you are ambivalent about your restrictions, holidays make it worse. Even if you are completely accepting of your restrictions, it’s still a tough road to follow – I really wanted some brie and crackers the other day…

If you ended up with some mild cross-contamination problems, this week is a good one for laying low and dealing with the aftermath. Simple, whole foods are a good answer for this problem, with plenty of treats planned after their systems are back to normal.

Treat yourself this week! If you didn’t have time or energy to make treats before the holidays, make some treats for the New Year! Find some yummy recipes and decide what will make you feel pampered and special. Or, go out and have someone else cook for you! We were lucky enough to be given gift certificates to GlutenFree Mall and Outback Steakhouse, and I plan to use them for every penny! ;) If you’re going out to a New Year’s Eve party, bring some treats. If you’re staying in, make something extra special. Around here, special means Buffalo Wings, but everyone has their own special treat that they love – find yours, and make sure you’ve got it. You deserve it after being “good” throughout the different parties!

Have a Happy Pampered New Year!

This is part of the Food Allergy Blog Carnival! Check out more entries, too.


[...] What do you do? What food allergies/intolerances do you cope with? Read the rest of the essay [...]

Ms. Pope on 27 December, 2007 at 8:05 am #

Peanut butter in chili is just wrong.

Rational Jenn on 27 December, 2007 at 9:30 am #

Buffalo Wings! We love those, too!

What a great idea, to have your treats all through the holiday season, not just at Christmas. Spreads it out a little and makes it last, so for me, less tempting to overeat.

Nice post, thanks!

Sheltie Girl on 27 December, 2007 at 9:33 am #

I do the same thing…make goodies for my children to eat when we go out to other homes. We seem to be the only gluten free and allergic folks we know.

Happy Holidays!

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

Holidays and food allergies on 28 December, 2007 at 12:53 pm #

[...] make – or both! However, this Friday I’d like to point you towards my friend Rachel, who just wrote a great entry on her blog about the challenges of having kids with food allergies during the holiday season when [...]

Sally Parrott Ashbrook on 28 December, 2007 at 7:52 pm #

It is hard, isn’t it? I decided the other day that just a little cheese wouldn’t hurt me, and boy, have I been paying for it since. After reading your post, I’m thinking, Of course–it was just that I finally gave in after a week of terrible temptation. I think I needed that stomach upset to remind me, very concretely, why I skip the foods I do.

Cassandra on 2 January, 2008 at 12:09 am #

I just want to add that I always keep on hand a supply of foods that my 2 yr old with celiac’s and a egg and milk allergy can eat at all times because you never know what situation you might wind up in and might not be able to get somewhere you can buy food that your child is able to eat.

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    • A Gaggle of Girls

      About Me: I'm a Mom living a busy life with 3 girls (11, 9, 6) who have just started school for the first time, Celiac Disease, , Chronic Lyme Disease which acts like Fibromyalgia, job-hunting, 1 cat, 1 puppy in exile, and a lot of books as we stay with family in New England. We eat great, homecooked, allergy safe food due to our food allergies & sensitivities.

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