Guest Blog by Caitlin of Caity's Kitchen: Thriving with Food Allergies
- Plan ahead! Now the ways you can plan ahead may differ depending on the type of holiday event, but it always helps to plan. In the best case scenario, you are a close friend or family member of the host/hostess, call ahead and ask about their menu. Hopefully they are already familiar with your allergy, and can help to let you know what will and will not be safe. If the holiday party is being held at a restaurant or is being catered, call ahead and try to go over the menu with the chef or staff.
- Bring something delicious to share. For me, one of the most uncomfortable positions to be in is to be holding an empty plate while everyone in the room asks you why you aren't eating. To avoid this dreaded situation, I try to bring something from home (or the store) to share. This works really well at holiday potlucks, which we have a lot at my work. If I can bring one to two dishes, I will always have something to put on my plate, and can avoid the awkward conversations on why I am not eating, how I should be starving, how they would die if they had food allergies like I do, etc.
- If all else fails, eat beforehand. The restaurant isn't safe, the host isn't accommodating, you cannot bring a dish to share - eat beforehand! I cannot tell you the amount of In-N-Out runs my husband and I have done after parties I couldn't eat at. Instead of having to suffer and starve at your Friendsgiving party, take the time to eat before. I will also keep a few safe snacks for myself in the car, so I can always sneak out and grab a bite to eat.
- You can never be too careful. If you are at a holiday party where you have access to the food bags or containers, then check those ingredients! If you are not absolutely sure where the food has come from, and that it does not contain any allergens, don't risk it. It is much better safe than sorry. I always say that I'd rather be a little hungry than in the back of an ambulance headed to the hospital.
- Keep your EpiPen handy. While your EpiPen should be on you at all times, it is especially important when you are going to parties or functions where you are not familiar with the food and cannot determine whether or not everything is safe. You can also let someone at the party with you that you have an EpiPen, and how to use it in case of emergency. (My husband and coworkers all know that I keep my EpiPen in my purse at all times with me, in case of emergency). Keeping wipes with you is also a good idea as those can be used to clean your hands or anything that may come in contact with allergens.