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Celebrating the Holidays with Food Allergies

It’s not just a catchy song lyric, the holidays truly are the most wonderful time of the year. Good cheer and giving run rampant during the season of parties and gatherings. It’s a time to count blessings, catch up with family and reconnect with friends. At the center of all that merriment, though is food and drink—which for allergy sufferers can be huge source of stress. But fear not! Here are some tips and tricks to help you get through the season with as little stress as possible.

Talk to the host.

Whether its relatives, friends or co-workers, if you’re an allergy sufferer, the people you’re surrounded by during the holidays love you and want to support you. There’s no shame in picking up the phone before a party to ask the host what’s on the menu.

Conversely, if you’re the host, it never hurts to ask up front if guests have dietary restrictions.

According to the FDA, the most common food allergens include:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  • Shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy

As a host, it’s not necessary to have all your foods be allergen-free. Just be sure to separate those that may contain allergens from those that don’t. Also, when it comes to party prep, ask for help. Your allergy-suffering family and friends may want to help make your gathering safe and enjoyable for everyone!

Take Control.

For the food allergic, educating family and friends about food allergies is a must. However, if you want to take the guess work out of the season, volunteer to be the host. Give yourself the gift of peace of mind by knowing exactly where your food is coming from and how it’s been prepared. Label your platters just in case.


It’s true hunger can lead to poor decision making, so plan ahead. If you’re an allergy sufferer and are unsure about the menu, don’t arrive at the party hungry. Eat a mini-meal or a heavy snack before you leave home so you don’t feel deprived. 


While the food and drinks might contain safe ingredients, cross-contamination is always a possibility. That’s why bringing your own dish and drinks is not only good manners, it could also be a lifesaver. Plus it guarantees you’ll have something to nibble on while enjoying the party.

Be Safe, Not Sorry.

As with any allergy, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Whether you’re a host or guest, here are some of the most common food allergy symptoms to be aware of:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth
  • Hives, itching or eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

If you’re a food allergy sufferer, consult your doctor to develop a plan for emergency treatment. The physicians and staff at Allergy & Asthma Care are here to help and want you to any holiday gathering any time of the year! If you think you might have food allergies, make an appointment with a board-certified allergist at any one of our five convenient locations.