How to Have Friends with Allergies Over for Dinner
“Would you like to join us for dinner?”
“Sure! Thanks for the invite, just to let you know we have allergies”…..phone drops dead as they run for the hills.
Food Allergies on the Rise
With incidence of allergies and intolerance increasing with every passing day, it is more than likely, your child has a friend at school/day care/mothers group who suffers from an allergic condition.
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system over reacts to a substance (food, pollens, grass, skin products, household chemicals, medications etc) which it sees as harmful. Reactions to a substance can be delayed or immediate. Symptoms can include stomach pain, itching, sneezing, stomach pain, coughing, increased reflux, swelling, breathing difficulties, rash, headache, runny nose, hives, and diarrhoea. A severe immediate reaction is known as anaphylaxis; this is a life threatening reaction and requires immediate medical attention.
Our Story with Food Allergies
As a mother of 4, 3 who have severe allergy conditions I see how kids with allergies can be excluded or left to feel different. Food is such a huge factor most peoples day-to-day lives. We celebrate with food, we comfort with food, we gather with food. For children who have allergies having a play date can be difficult. Having a social gathering at a friend's place needs intensive planning.
My eldest daughter, Michaela 8 years old, has multiple allergies. She suffers from airborne and food allergies. She carries and EpiPen with her as she has a high risk of anaphylaxis to nuts, kiwi fruit and peanuts.
My 3 year old Jasmine suffers from a serious delayed allergy condition called FPIES – Food Protein Induced Entercolitis Syndrome. Her triggers are dairy and soy products. This is not a well-known about condition, but can be just as much of a life threatening condition as anaphylaxis. An FPIES reaction is delayed; profuse vomiting and diarrhoea canbeginfrom 2 hours after ingestion. In some cases, children will go into shock and will require immediate hospital treatment.
My youngest son is 21 months old and to date does not have any safe foods he can eat and lives purely on a specialised formula, Elecare.
As you can imagine having my family as dinner guests would be daunting. However, if you know someone who has allergies you don’t need to exclude them, you can do a little research, learn how to read labels, ask questions. You will be surprised that it really isn’t that hard.
For us, I can say BBQs are a safe option (minus the Aussie shrimp on the barbie as I have a shellfish allergy). Steak, chops, chicken, homemade meatballs/rissoles with an assortment of salads for the side. The only thing you need to consider is if you use marinades/sauces/seasonings, this is where label reading is a MUST. Be warned that products can have allergens listed in a way you might not recognise eg. Milk may be listed as whey, Hydrolysed casein or Magnesium caseinate to name a few. However, if you are a good friend going that extra step to know your friends will be safe won’t be any trouble at all.
How to Entertain Friends with Allergies
Fortunately, having friends with allergies for dinner doesn’t need to be a nightmare and end in an ambulance call. When inviting friends for dinner a simple question, “Do you have any allergies or food requirements?” will make the experience enjoyable and safe for all.
I am sure you will find your friends will offer to bring allergy-friendly food for you to share or you can look up menus online to find foods that will fit the bill.
How do you host and entertain friends with allergies for dinners?
About the Author:
Annah Sorrenson-Cox is a stay a home mother of 4 children Michaela, Noah, Jasmine and Isaac. 3 of who have severe food allergies. Family is #1, however, I also enjoy friends, crafts, cooking and helping others. I started my blog in hope to help others in their journeys with allergies. I have currently deferred my university degree to focus my attention on my childrens health, I look forward to completing my degree in the future and to work professionally as a counsellor.Connect with Annah on her blog Allergy Friendly Family or Facebook page.
Photo Credit: Annah Sorrenson-Cox