8 ways to attend parties safely with food allergies
For those living with food allergies and celiac disease, it can make social gatherings challenging. We believe that being social, and attending parties, is important. Our family has attended parties for 15 years living with food allergies, celiac disease, and special dietary needs. We have not been stopped from attending parties, ever. Here are eight ways, we have learned, to attend parties safely.
- Bring your own food everywhere you go. I know this can be a lot of work, but it's the sole way you can ensure you get to eat, and eat safely. It's a way to relieve stress and pressure for you and the party host too. Our family and friends have come to expect that we will bring our own food, no big deal.
- Call the host ahead of time. When our girls get invited to parties, I call the host ahead of time to ask what they will be serving so I can provide similar food for my child if I can. This allows the host to know my child has food allergies and celiac while not expecting the host to provide food for my child. Also, if you have contact or airborne food allergies, please have a conversation with the host and decide if you can attend safely. I know this situation is more difficult.
- Bring delicious allergy and celiac friendly foods to share. Our family and friends need to know that the food we eat is just as delicious as theirs (or more delicious), the ingredients are just a bit different.
- Wash hands well. Especially for our younger children, wash hands well before and after each meal. We can’t control the environment of a party or whether a friend spills an allergen, but we can be sure to be diligent in the things we do have control over.
- Sit at the end of the table. When food is about to be served, especially for children, have your child sit at the end of the table. This eliminates having two messy eaters on two sides of your child and also allows an easy exit should your child feel uncomfortable or need to wash their hands.
- Be kind and honest. If the host asks if they can provide food safely for you, be kind and honest. We have a few friends that love to feed us. I have had in depth conversations about what it would take to feed us safely (brands, no cross contact, cooking utensils, pots/pans, etc). After our in depth conversations they have still wanted to feed us. In this case, we bring whatever we need that the host doesn’t have and then we all cook together. This eliminates mistakes or concerns that the food might not be safe, and is a fun way to be in the kitchen with friends. Be profusely thankful!
- Have an exit plan. Be sure to talk ahead of time about things that would make for an early exit from a party (feeling unsafe, your allergens are present that you weren’t aware of, you don’t want to be around for the food portion of the party, etc). Thank the host, be gracious, and head home without apology.
Enjoy the party! I know this seems trivial, but it can feel overwhelming to go to social gatherings. It is important to enjoy being at the party.