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!

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