Monday, January 17, 2011

Etiquette with Food Allergies

Food allergies are becoming more common in society, as better medical tests are able to identify the source of a person's discomfort. Although they are more prevalent, the person with the "ailment" needs to become his/her own advocate in order to ensure that surrounding foods can be eaten. It might seem an uncomfortable situation to announce that anything with peanuts cannot be consumed at the dinner table, but it is better to refuse a food than go into anaphylactic shock. As a host or considerate citizen, there are several things that a person can do to prepare for such challenges ahead of time:

1) When inviting guests to a dinner party, ask invitees ahead of time if anyone suffers from food allergies (peanuts, sesame, gluten, dairy, eggs -to name a few). Those with eating difficulties will be thrilled that they will be able to participate in the meal without having to worry.

2) If a person with the allergy offers to bring an allergy-free food to the party, don't hesitate to accept the offer. That way, the person knows what is in the food and won't get sick, and others will have the opportunity to sample a new dish!

3) It is alright to ask about the allergy. For example, a person with Celiac Disease is oftentimes extremely happy to share details about the allergy/disease, as it raises awareness of the problem. Every question is a good question!

4) Consult with cookbooks or online recipes for easy meals that are allergy-free. It is a win/win situation, as new foods get to be sampled and everyone can eat!

5) Ask before eating suspect foods in front of others- especially children. So many children have severe peanut/nut allergies and can suffer from a serious allergy attack if they touch something contaminated then stick their fingers in their mouth.

Eating in front of children can be a difficult situation, as they often do not fully understand their "ailment." When participating in an event with kids, consider all allergies that a child might have and potential alternative snacks. At EtiKids, we recognize that this is a challenge, so we often try to provide two choices: fruit and vegetables. Dips are often provided as well, so the kids can experiment with healthy snacks in a way that can work for everyone. Best of all, no one is left out of the fun!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cell Phones and Manners

They are everywhere… No longer just a means of communication, they have often become appendages that cover ears. Found all over the world, they vary in size, width, color and shape. Some have bling, others sing and almost everyone will ring! Yes, the cell phone is here to stay.

Holiday cell phone gifts must have been on the rise. People were checking and texting at the movies. A wedding was the location for individuals glancing at sports scores and online searches to bide time until the conclusion of the ceremony. The dinner table took on a special ambiance as phones rang and conversations ensued. Laps were the area of visual focus for twitters, tweeters and Facebook addicts in the family room. There was the woman yelling into the phone at her sister in the department store. The car became a prime place for filler-time conversations. With such widespread use and availability, are what constitutes proper cell phone etiquette?

1. When asked, please listen. Movie theatres, playhouses, museums, doctors’ offices and other public places often make special requests for patrons to turn phones to off. Ringing phones break concentration, change the tone and interfere with the need for quiet.
2. Be respectful of others sharing the space. One cannot always enjoy the privacy necessary for a conversation. When space is at a premium or there are too many people, (ie. the elevator) turn off the phone. Or at least put your conversation on hold for those few moments.
3. Adjust all volumes, phone rings and speaking voice. It’s frightening to have a phone break the silence with a ring loud enough to wake those in Australia! The other no-no is speaking in a voice loud enough for others to hear. Keep your conversation brief and speak in a low voice when absolutely necessary.
4. Turn the phone off with loved ones, friends and during meetings. Everyone is important. No one is cooler or busier because they are talking on a cell phone while socializing with other people. Try not to interrupt an engaging conversation by taking a call mid-sentence, during dinner, on a date or even job interview. The call can go right to voice mail and returned at a more convenient and private time.
5. Driving and texting don’t mix. Multi-task at home or at work, not when it can impact the lives of others. Many laws have been created regarding the use and limitation of cell phones. Check your state regulations. If there is urgency for a call, pull over to the side of the road. After all, the life you save could be mine!

Cell phones are a remarkable invention; however, there can be a point when they are overused, abused, an annoyance, a bother, an irritation and a nuisance. EtiKids classes offer children the opportunity to learn the etiquette of cell phone use. Kids learn how to answer, leave messages and explore the manners and responsibilities that are necessary to use and own a cell phone. It’s a social skill for all ages... Set an example for others, starting now. Courtesy is contagious!