Advise Me

A How-To For The Holidays When You Have Food Allergies

Food allergies don’t have to dampen your holiday spirit. We asked Julie Simpson, registered dietitian at Banner Health to share a few tips for celebrating for every occasion, whether at a restaurant or dining at home this holiday season.

When Dining Out

  1. Research safe dining options. If you are traveling during the holidays, this can be particularly important, Simpson said. Check out the local restaurants in the area you’ll be staying and see if you can get ahold of their menu and ingredient listings. Some restaurants have substitutions and options available for those with dietary restrictions and allergies.
  2. Speak with the server or manager. To help make sure the foods you are ordering don’t contain food allergens and the kitchen can reduce the risk of cross-contamination, you can bring a Chef Card with you to share with the chef or manager.
  3. Bring an Epi-Pen. Always carry an Epi-Pen if your food allergy can result in anaphylaxis. Mistakes can happen with the meal order, and you should be prepared.
  4. It’s OK to send food back. It’s perfectly fine to send food back if you requested your food allergen to be removed from the dish, and the dish comes out with your food allergen.

“For more information about dining out with food allergies, visit for more guidance,” Simpson said.

When Celebrating at Someone’s Home

  1. RSVP ASAP! If you are invited to a party at someone’s home make them aware of your food allergy.
  2. BYOSF (Bring your own safe food). Offer to bring a safe dish. Your host will be thankful not to have to prepare separate food items. Make a note card that indicates the ingredients and leave with your dish.
  3. Keep allergen-free food items separate. If the host isn’t able to keep the kitchen area free of allergens, suggest ahead of time keeping the allergen-free food items in a separate location.
  4. Bring an Epi-Pen. As this applies with dining out, if your allergy can result in anaphylaxis, bring one with you.

Considerations for Young Ones with Food Allergies

Kids with food allergies, particularly little ones, don’t always know what foods contain their food allergens. You don’t want them running over at a party to grab a cookie, only to find out it’s loaded with nuts and they have a nut allergy. Simpson suggested setting ground rules and teaching them how to manage their food allergy. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Only accept food from their parents and family members who are aware of their food allergies.
  2. Prepare your child’s plate first so there is a reduced risk for cross-contamination.
  3. Communicate a plan with your child ahead of time for staying safe on holidays. Set up a plan to get tasty treats after the party if they are unable to indulge at that time. They will be more willing to follow the rules and keep themselves safe.

If you are concerned that you or your child may be suffering from a food allergy, don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with one of our Banner Health allergists and immunologists who can help diagnose and treat you. To find a doctor, visit

Allergy and Immunology Nutrition Food Allergies Holidays

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