Counting down to Christmas…

Halloween involves much more unsafe candy than Christmas does.  So why does Christmas stir up so much more anxiety for parents of food allergic kids?

When Halloween is over, we are happily back at our house, sorting candy.  No one is offended if we send their contributions in to work with Dad; no one knows that their homemade caramel apple ends up at the bottom of the trash can.

Christmas is all about family and togetherness and celebration.  This is wonderful and challenging and frustrating all at the same time for families with food allergies.

“Oh, I forgot he can’t have that.” No one thinks about your child’s food allergies as much as you do.  It is natural for some relatives and friends to forget, especially when you live out of state.  Others may assume your child has “outgrown it.”  Take a few minutes to send a reminder email to those you will be seeing.

Enlist your hostess’ support.  Share your concern ahead of time about a gathering at her home.  Tell her what you are worried about.  How can it be safe for your child?  She may have suggestions you have not considered.

Christmas 2010
Our son is lucky to have these folks!

Be understanding. If someone is not sure that a dish is safe for your child, that is OK.  We are lucky not to have any dairy allergies at our house – so we eat lots of milk, butter, yogurt and milk chocolate.  Many of our staple foods are probably cross-contaminated.  I know I would not be comfortable feeding a milk-allergic child foods made in my kitchen.

Be suspicious. This is a tough one.  Aunt Rose is sure her cookies are safe for your child.  But did she make any peanut blossoms at the same time?  Does she have the ingredient label for the Hershey’s Kisses / candy bits / butterscotch morsels?  (See substitute food below.)

Skip some parties. Some families love love love peanut butter ice cream and peanut snacks.  If the hostess hesitates on changing the ice cream flavor or the snack choice, then this is a party to avoid.

Hang out in the kitchen. Check the chip ingredients before they go out on that low coffee table.  Stop the walnuts from being sprinkled on that sweet potato dish that is safe for your child.

Have a great substitute food ready.  Yes, this does mean you now have to travel with grocery bags of safe food and treats.  Your favorite stores and brands may not be available where you going.  But if things don’t go well in the kitchen, at least you have a nice alternative on hand.  This is especially true at dessert time!  Your child will feel just fine eating brightly wrapped Christmas candy instead of the questionable cheesecake.

We hope you enjoy the Holidays with your out-of-town family and friends!  Thanks to our family for making Thanksgiving and Christmas so safe for our guy!

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