Thursday, December 3, 2009

Surviving Christmas Feasting

Christmas is synonymous with feasting, particularly with our family (although I have firmly told myself that the feast is for one day only – or three – but not the whole season!).

I am happy to say that it hasn’t been an issue so far for us at our family gatherings (our extended family gatherings range from 30 to 50 people on Christmas Day). But I know that for others it’s not so easy.

We have just run a feature in the summer issue of Allergy Today on Surviving Christmas, so if you haven’t received the magazine subscribe now and have a jolly good read (I say!).

Here are a few pointers on eating out safely taken from the feature:

1. Let your friends and colleagues know you have a food allergy and what to do if you have a severe reaction. Make sure you take your medication with you, and show your friends where you keep it.

2. Contact the restaurant in advance, if possible, and avoid their peak times. It can be very difficult for staff to take care of your needs when they are extremely busy.

3. Explain your allergy to the manager and discuss the menu.

4. Simple meals with no sauces are usually the safest, for example pan-fried steak, with a side of steamed vegetables.

5. Remind all staff that all ingredient labels must be checked for the presence of the food you’re avoiding.

6. Ask about cross contamination controls in the kitchen: is your meal being prepared with clean utensils, saucepans, chopping boards etc? Have oils used for deep frying been used for frying other foods?

7. Check your meal before eating it.

8. If you had a successful meal, don’t forget to thank the staff. A simple thank you goes a long way!

What are some of your experiences with catering for your, or your child’s, food allergy?

I am particularly interested to hear how adults with food allergies manage to negotiate the Christmas do.

So post away!


  1. Forgot to add that this was written by Inga Stünzner!

  2. Also note that most restaurants in our country would accept home-made food for kids with serious food allergies so check with the restaurant when you are making a booking. This usually saves us parents stress and keeps the kids happy for they can have their own choice of food.

  3. Very good point, Julie. Thanks for sharing that with us.