On Surviving Holidays with Food Allergies

Holidays are especially challenging for people who have pervasive food allergies.  When you have to dodge a couple dozen food sources (or more), most of the feast prepared by and for others represents a toxic misadventure. Then come the well-intended relatives who either don’t believe you really have food allergies or think that “just a little won’t hurt.”  It will. Believe me. It will, especially if the reaction is a true allergy, but even a “simple” intolerance can make a person miserable for days.

I had been battling food allergies for 8 years when someone gave me the following advice. I pass it on to you now, so that if you, too, are in mortal combat against food allergies, you can benefit from this.

Bear in mind I’m not a doctor, nor is the person who gave me this advice. She was a nutritionist, and the first person who actually gave me advice that was more useful than “Just avoid what you can’t have.” After I started following this advice, the rate at which I developed food allergies and intolerances dropped significantly.

If you’re developing food allergies and intolerances now (or if you already have a list going), you might want to start doing the rotation thing I was advised to use. Set up menu plans a few weeks in advance. The rules are:

1) Do not eat the same foodstuff 2 days in a row. You can alternate or set up a 3-day rotation, but not 2 in a row. So, for example, if you eat zucchini today. No zucchini in ANYTHING you make tomorrow. If you use olive oil today, no olive oil in ANYTHING you make tomorrow, etc.

2) Set up your meal plans so that you have whole weeks where something doesn’t show up at all. For example, I have corn-free weeks and rice-free weeks and berry-free weeks.

3) Keep track (mentally or on paper) of any unfavorable reactions you get after eating something. If you think you have a new intolerance/allergy brewing, don’t eat that food AT ALL for 10 days. Then try it again. If you get the reaction again, you probably need to put the food on your toxic list.

4) Read labels CAREFULLY. If you have issue with, say, wheat, even a tiny amount of wheat can set off a reaction. I can’t take communion at church any more because one communion wafer the size of my pinky nail caused a migraine for the rest of the day.

5) Depending on your sensitivity level, you might still react to Product A if Product A is “safe” and Product B contains allergens if both are made in the same plant. Most manufacturers will list if a product is made in a facility that also processes some of the major allergens.

6) Stay away from bulk bins. Cross-contamination is a major problem.

7) Some celiac sufferers have to keep separate cooking pots and utensils and even condiments because celiac is really that sensitive. Other allergens might be, too.

This plan does not guarantee you won’t develop any more allergies or intolerances. I’ve developed a couple even after starting this, but it’s now a couple every couple years not a bunch at one time.

Be careful. There are a lot of “snake oil salesmen” out there claiming they have the cure for food allergies. Do your research carefully.


2 thoughts on “On Surviving Holidays with Food Allergies

  1. eightpawswriting

    Hi Cindy, sorry to hear you have so many allergies. My daughter has more on her list than I do. I am gluten and soy intolerant. I’m lucky that seems to be the worst of it. Since I have taken them out of my diet, I have no asthma, migraines or acid reflux. I make my own desserts and am now having to watch sugar and carbs, showing signs of being pre-diabetic. It sure gets boring not being able to indulge in what ever you want! But I love feeling energetic and well. Glad you are doing better!


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