Managing Kids’ Food Allergies at Thanksgiving

Childrens’ food allergies are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventon, kids’ food allergies shot up by 50 percent from 1997 to 2011.

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Food allergies get particularly tricky as we enter the season for food-centered holidays. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, a safe bet is to plan early to make Thanksgiving an enjoyable experience—in spite of allergies.

If you have a child with food allergies, consider these tips:

  • Plan plenty of activities so that food isn’t the only attraction (board games, flag football, family talent show, fun run, movie at the local theater, etc.)
  • Inform those contributing food items about your child’s allergies. Make a list of “trigger” foods so they know what ingredients to avoid if they are planning to bring a dish that your child can eat.
  • Clearly not every dish must be allergy-free, but make sure that there are plenty of safe foods for your child to choose from.
  • Keep food in one area of the home. Make sure serving pieces don’t pass between dishes.
  • If you’re worried about your child sharing food or taking food items that could trigger allergies, seat them near you during dinner.
  • Dish up your child’s plate before others eat. This can help ensure that food is not cross-contaminated by serving pieces. This practice can also limit your child’s food choices to safe foods only.
  • If you are eating at someone else’s house and wary of the food choices, make your child a “safe plate” and bring it wrapped and ready to eat.
  • Give your child a special job to make them feel important and included. You might assign them to be the “official photographer” for the day.

If food allergies are significantly cutting into your child’s quality of life, consider sublingual immunotherapy for food allergy treatment. It is similar to allergy shots, but the antigen is dosed as drops under the tongue (rather than as injections). The antigen can help desensitize the body to trigger foods that once spurred uncomfortable and even dangerous reactions. Talk to your physician about allergy drops for milk, wheat, and nut allergy treatment… and more!