Nothing brings families and food together like the holidays. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, millions of Americans travel, reconnect and celebrate together. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or just your next door neighbor’s holiday party, the season brings up all sorts of challenges for families living with food allergies. We’re here to help make the holidays less stressful.
Secret family recipes and not-so-secret stress
Travel brings with it the hazards of eating on the go, in airports or on the road. Then we’re faced with celebratory meals that are loaded with tradition, and occasionally allergens that hosts may not recognize as problematic. One person’s secret family stuffing recipe could be another family’s nut allergy nightmare. These are the kind of scenarios that effective food allergy treatment can help families move past, removing fear and creating more inclusive family celebrations.
Giving gratitude, and sharing good news
At Latitude, many of us know exactly what navigating the holidays around food allergies feels like. Our CEO, Kimberley Yates founded the company after experiencing the impact of her daughter Tessa’s life-threatening food allergies. She knows all about being faced with well-intended holiday food preparations that could potentially harm her child.
As Kimberley shared with NPR, it only took a relative putting a handheld mixer, that had been used for eggnog, into carefully prepared mashed potatoes to create a risk for her daughter. These mishaps happen all too easily in a hectic holiday kitchen. But that doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of avoidance.
Fortunately, Kimberley’s daughter Tessa participated in a pivotal clinical trial at Stanford University to desensitize her to multiple allergens. Within a year, Tessa was able to fully enjoy a traditional holiday meal, eating without fear, and giving Kim the freedom to fully focus on her family. Nearly 10 years later, Tessa and her family continue to appreciate much less stressful holidays.
Today, at Latitude we help other families begin their own food allergy treatment journeys. In addition to proactive treatment, we have some tips and resources for making it through these busy holiday weeks.
Preparing for the Holidays
- Heading somewhere for a festive meal or party? Don’t be shy about asking your host about their food plans ahead of time. With an estimated 32 million Americans affected by food allergies, awareness of the issue is high. Most hosts will really appreciate it if you communicate your family’s needs ahead of time. Consider sharing our resources on common allergens, guidance on safer food preparation, and some food allergy-friendly recipe suggestions.
- Be prepared for parties, potlucks and spontaneous get-togethers. Keep your own supply of safe-to-eat treats in the pantry or freezer. That way you’ll be ready for any last minute festivities. These allergen-free appetizers are a great place to start.
- Hand sanitizer is good for many things, but won’t eliminate allergens. What you (or your friends) might not know is that hand sanitizer is not an effective cleaning agent for dangerous food proteins — neither is water alone. We don’t want to spread germs, but we do want to spread the word that when it comes to allergens, soap and water are the best defense. Liquid soap, bar soap and commercial wipes have been shown to be effective at removing peanut allergens. This article has good guidelines to help keep your family safe from cross-contact.
- When traveling, pack snacks you can trust. Worried about not being able to get safe eats on the road? Need inspiration for snacks to pack? This allergy-aware travel site has plenty of suggestions to help you put safe snacks on your packing list!
- Adopt the buddy system. When it comes to food allergies, teamwork makes the dream work. At a party or holiday visit, try to tag team with another trusted adult, and have them be vigilant eyes for your food allergy kid for some of the time. Parents need a chance to relax too, and taking some time to lower your own stress is good for the whole family.
- Adults with allergies should ask questions about hidden ingredients in cocktails. Craft cocktails may be on trend, but allergens like dairy, eggs and nuts often make an unwelcome appearance, as does the risk of cross contamination. Educate yourself to avoid any mixed-drink mix ups.
- As always, be prepared, should something trigger an allergic reaction. Recognize the signs of an allergic reaction and always have 2 auto-injectors of epinephrine (e.g. EpiPen®, Auvi-Q®) easily accessible to treat anaphylaxis.
Making a food allergy resolution for 2023
With some forward planning, you can navigate around food allergies and enjoy the holiday season. But what if you could really take control of the food allergies impacting your family? We’ve helped thousands of patients eat freely and live life.
We offer life-changing answers in 3 steps:
- Initial in-person consultation and testing.
- Follow up to discuss results and personalized treatment plan.
- Start food introduction visits to safely rule out food allergies or start desensitization treatment.
Wherever you are in your food allergy journey, we wish you all the best during the holiday season!
Are you living with food allergies? We provide food allergy patients the latitude to eat freely and live life. Contact us today to learn more about our life changing comprehensive food allergy care including testing, treatment and prevention for patients of all ages.