The Holidays and Food Allergies

The amazing aroma of herbs, spices and butter infusing into your baking turkey at 5 a.m. is enough to wake your family from even the deepest of slumbers.

You count down hours and minutes until family arrives from near and far, excited to spend quality time with the people you love so dearly for the holidays.

But suddenly, you’re no longer excited. You’re actually starting to panic!  

What if your food-allergic child is exposed to an allergen that causes a frightening allergic reaction like anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction?

Cross-contact of food allergens can happen easily. A minuscule amount of an allergy protein may be invisible to the eye, but enough to trigger an allergic reaction for someone with a food allergy.

I’m sure the fear of spending the evening in an emergency room instead of enjoying time with family is the last thing you want for your child or family.

But don’t fret. There are a number of things you can do to help minimize cross-contact and anxiety. Consider these simple steps to help transition your home into a controlled eating environment for the holidays.

1) Prepare allergy-safe dishes first.

Prep and store allergy dishes in covered containers to avoid food splatters and exposure to unsafe ingredients.

2) Talk with your food-allergic child.

Remind your child to avoid food sharing, to ask before eating any offered food, and to practice good hand hygiene.

3) Sterilize dishes and utensils.

Use hot, soapy water when cleaning to ensure harmful allergen proteins are thoroughly removed. Consider using disposable dinnerware. Sanitize kitchen counters and sinks to minimize cross-contact risks.

4) Use labels.

Labeling food items as allergy-safe or with your allergic child’s name, can assist family members with locating safe, worry-free snacks in your absence.

5) Use marked containers.

Keep a single, labeled refrigerator container for safe leftovers and condiments to decrease allergy risks.

Safe and scrumptious eating to you and your family this holiday season!

K Leavy Miller photo

Chicago native Kristin Leavy Miller is a freelance writer and blogger, currently based in Baltimore.  She devotes her free time to writing about the daily life of her food-allergic preschooler.  When not writing, Kristin’s busy in her kitchen experimenting with allergy-free ingredients, making safe and delicious treats for all to enjoy. You can visit Kristin’s blog at or follow her on Twitter @TheLeavy_Miller.