Tips for enjoying the holidays with food allergies

    The holidays and their food-oriented traditions can cause extra challenges and stress to families with food allergies. MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Food Allergy Center experts Nancy S. Rotter, PhD, a pediatric psychologist, and Elisabeth Stieb, RN, share their surefire tips for ensuring families with food allergies experience a happy and healthy holiday season.

    1. Focus on the fun that is possible rather than anything the food allergies cause you to forego.
    2. Create new holiday traditions. Swap cookie/pie baking parties for a decoration making parties. Plan fun holiday activities that aren’t focused on food. Try themed scavenger hunts, craft activities, or holiday themed dress parties.
    3. Read the labels. Holiday-themed foods often have allergenic ingredients added. Many companies sell “holiday” versions, so previously safe products may have different ingredients for a limited time. Also, some holiday foods have hidden, unexpected ingredients. Read all ingredient statements with every purchase.
    4. Plan for the unexpected. Make sure your child’s teacher has a stockpile of safe treats for that unscheduled school celebration.
    5. Notify your host/hostess in advance. Don’t be afraid to venture out for holiday parties and events. Be honest with your host/hostess, but not alarmist. If you feel the host/hostess may not be able or comfortable cooking an allergy-free meal, bring your own food.
    6. Have backup plan. Anticipate that food surprises and temptations will occur. Talk with your family and friends ahead of time, but have a backup plan. The plan could include a special allergy-free treat -or sneaking off to for some extra video game time, or an early departure.
    7. Get others to help. You’re surrounded by friends and family, so feel comfortable asking them to share the responsibility of watching your allergic child around food. Switching off or having extra eyes to keep watch, will help parents feel more relaxed and let you have fun too!
    8. Host your own party. Hosting allows you to offer only safe foods. 
    9. Be prepared. Always carry your autoinjectable epinephrine, antihistamine, food allergy action plan, safe foods and any other medications prescribed. Traveling by air, boat or train? Make sure all your medications and safe foods to eat in transit are in your carry-on bag.
    Those searching for the Fountain of Youth may find age-defying rejuvenation in two facials soon to...
    Robb Report Health & Wellness editor Janice O’Leary sat down with Joy Bauer, MS, RDN—and a New...
    Photo by Lisa Romerein
    Originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of Robb Report Health & Wellness as “Private...
    Personalized medicine takes a new approach to curing cancer by creating murine avatars. Housed in a...
    Located in north-central Arizona amid world-famous red rock formations, L’Auberge de Sedona now...
    illustration by THOMAS FUCHS
    Sometimes forgoing the knife equals a longer life.  Myth: Any blockage of the coronary...
    Photo by Elva Etienne / Alamy
    Science supports the mind-body benefits of being outdoors. In every walk with nature, one receives...
    Illustration by dave cutler
    How a purloined research device, an ounce of bravery, and a physician with a death grip brought...
    Photo by Ted Morrison
    Dr. Michael Roizen recommends supplements to aid in the prevention of heart disease, mental...
    Photo by Blackdays/Shutterstock
    New research has found that taking muscle-building supplements may increase the risk of...