Holiday Survival Guide: Food Allergies


You’ve been invited to many meals and gatherings during the holidays, but something is bothering you: your food allergies that often prevent you from fully enjoying meals, and make you feel a little bit guilty when you can’t eat some of the dishes your host has prepared.

However, rejoice, because you are not the only one dealing with this trouble. Most people have to deal with their own allergies, or family members’ allergies. Of course your way of cooking and eating will be different, even though you’re not the one with these restrictions. Have you ever heard of cross contamination? This term is common when talking about gluten-intolerant people, but it is as applicable to allergies. Let’s say you’re using a bowl filled with peanuts, and then, without washing it, you add in some flour that you want to use to bake a cake. Uh oh! Now your dessert might contain peanuts, which could be dangerous for your son who is allergic. Do you find dealing with allergies hard? Well, here are some tips that might help you out, especially during the holidays!


At home: Daily precautions or precautions with guests

  • Prepare allergen-free dishes before other dishes.
  • Clean all surfaces (counters, cutting boards, microwave) and all work tools with soap and a clean cloth before preparing allergen-free dishes. If possible, use separate cutting boards for allergen-free foods only.
  • Wash unpackaged food which may have come into contact with allergens before cooking.
  • Use different utensils for serving dishes with and without allergens. Tell your guests so they do not mix up the utensils.
  • Store foods safely, in labelled sealed containers, preferably in cupboards that are separate from the rest of the food. If possible, store allergen-free dishes and preparations in the top part of the fridge, to avoid allergens coming into contact by dripping or falling on them.


Eating out: Planning a visit to a friend’s place or a restaurant

  • Tell the host or server about your food allergies or your child’s food allergies.
  • Ask how food is prepared. Cross-contamination can occur when the same kitchen equipment or utensils are used.
  • Avoid salad bars or buffets because the utensils may have been in contact with an allergen, and the food from one dish may have touched another dish.
  • Pick foods that are as unprocessed as possible to decrease the risk of contamination with other allergens.
  • Make sure you always have an EpiPen® Auto-Injector with you and use it right away when the first signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction occur.


Photo credit: Louise Gagnon – Communication culinaire

And here is a superb braised beef with apple cider vinegar recipe that excludes the 10 biggest and most common food allergens. To the kitchen!

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