Navigating potlucks with food allergies
Whether you’re attending a backyard barbecue or a holiday gathering, potluck meals can be tricky if you’re one of the estimated 15 million Americans who has food allergies.
Fortunately, having a food allergy doesn’t have to mean missing out on the fun of group meals. A little bit of planning can help reduce your risk of having an allergic reaction, according to Yoon Mi Kim, DO, an allergy and immunology fellow at University Hospital Richmond Medical Center in Richmond Heights, Ohio.
Focusing on preventive care, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to consider how environmental and lifestyle factors impact your health. They are trained to listen and partner with you to help you not only get healthy, but stay well.
5 tips for guests with food allergies
Dr. Kim suggests the following tips for guests with food allergies:
- Notify the host about your food allergy in a timely manner. “You can even educate the host about the particular food you are allergic to and where it might be a hidden ingredient,” Dr. Kim says.
- Be open to questions about your allergy and prepared to provide safe recipes or alternative ingredients.
- Try bringing a safe dish that everyone at the party can partake in, ideally something that does not need to be refrigerated or can be brought in a cooler.
- If your child has a food allergy, remind them not to accept food from anyone but you at the party.
“Being educated, prepared and cognizant of one’s dietary restrictions can alleviate some of the stress that comes with food allergies,” says Dr. Kim.
Planning tips for hosts
Hosts can be mindful of potential food allergies by asking guests to note in their RSVP if they have a dietary restriction or allergy.
“There are ways to modify recipes and, depending on the allergen, the host may choose to use a different ingredient. For example, you can use soy milk or rice milk as a substitute for dairy milk,” says Dr. Kim.
To decrease the risk of cross-contamination, Dr. Kim suggests cooking foods that are allergy-free first, then preparing the rest of the dishes. Be sure to keep the allergenic foods separate from the rest of the meal.