A peek inside a food allergy mom’s brain during holiday season…
- What will be served at family gatherings?
- We are traveling this weekend. What food will we pack? What food can be eaten in the car vs. hotel room? Do we need to buy/bake/prep any of the foods? How many coolers will we need to transport the food?
- Can we reserve a hotel room without a kitchen or do we need to get a suite?
- Have we reminded family and friends about cross-contamination, the importance of washing hands/ surfaces, and ensuring dishes and utensils are cleaned properly?
- Other family members are bringing salads, side dishes, etc. How have they been prepared? Did they read all the food labels?
- We need to remind Grady how to manage his allergies. He needs to wash his hands and always ask before eating any food.
- Are the homes we are visiting safe, or have peanut/egg products been consumed recently? Will Grady need to be extra careful?
Early on in our food allergy journey, every family gathering, every trip away from home, was a huge undertaking. It was overwhelming. We’d remember one thing but forget another. Lists were made, revised, crossed off; It was a process. Now, preparations have become more automatic. Grady is getting older and is developing his own understanding of how to manage his allergies; Family and friends who have walked this journey with us are supportive and know the routine with few reminders.
What we have learned:
- Discuss the menu with family and friends. Find out the ingredients being used and offer to help! We always bring desserts because they can be the hardest to keep safe for Grady. Offer suggestions of safe brands, recipes that are allergy-friendly, and places to buy the safe items.
- If you worry about your child having a reaction, bring your child their own plate of food. We do this sometimes depending on the food being served. Grady is also super picky, so if we know he won’t like what’s on the menu, it’s better to bring something just for him.
- Discuss your child’s allergies with family and friends. No doubt, you have probably had several conversations already. However, we have found that if you don’t live in the food allergy world daily, it is so easy to forget the little things. Be supportive and help your family and friends by reminding them how to handle your child’s allergies (washing hands, cleaning surfaces, safe foods, etc.). The more support you can offer, the more support you will receive in return.
- Discuss with your child where you will be going and what they can expect. Have a conversation about how to manage their food allergies, and what they should do when food is out. Stress the importance of washing hands and not sharing food.
- Be vigilant, but remember to relax. I have had too many gatherings where I was so nervous and wound so tight, I didn’t enjoy myself. Your child will pick up on your tense emotions. Be a positive role model. (I’m still working on this one…)