Food Allergy Counseling

Food Allergy Counseling
Sloane Miller, Food Allergy Counselor (Picture © Noel Malcolm 2013)

Monday, December 02, 2013

Food Allergy Counseling: Thanksgiving & Your Host

This year, dear friend Heidi, Brooklyn Allergy Mom, kindly invited my mom and I to Thanksgiving at her house. Her daughter has severe food allergies, some that intersect with mine, some that don’t. Add to that Heidi and her husband have food intolerances to different ingredients from their child’s food allergies and each other. And add my mom, who also has food allergies. Oy. That’s a lot of special requests to handle.

Heidi, a food allergy mom through and through, was equal to the task, checking in with me about her ingredients, double checking labels (good thing too, as she found changes) and triple checking with me about my needs.

Independently, I made a “Shadow Thanksgiving” (think Britain's Shadow Cabinet but way less contentious), which included a few things for “leftovers” at my house. These are essential dishes that I love, the way I love them like cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, spice cake, roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. Who doesn’t like to have those Thanksgiving goodies around the house for the week?

This turned out to be prescient as Heidi decided to go off book on a recipe, adding an ingredient about which I was unsure. She also wanted to use some gluten-free flour mixes that don't work for me but work for her allergic child.So, having a back-up, or three, allowed Heidi to make the dishes for her allergic child the way she wanted to (easier for Heidi), it allowed me to bring my safe food from home (easier for me) and everyone had what they wanted – win for all.

Heidi wrote it up on her blog this way. So sweet.

For me, the bottom line of my blog post is that:

-The point of getting together is getting together. 
-Food is merely a vehicle for that togetherness. 
-Don’t let food stand in your way. 

If there’s something you can’t eat at the party (or the whole party is off limits): 
-Eat beforehand.
-Bring your own food.
-Talk to the hostess. 
-Or do all three. 

Bottom line: Do whatever you need to do to stay safe and stay social with the least amount of anxiety.

Even the New York Times agrees with me on this point in a recent article called: In theEnd, It’s Not About the Food: "I hope my approach to hosting doesn’t come across as didactic or officious. It’s all intended toward a singular goal: making sure that other people have a good time. I don’t care if you put your elbows on the table. I care only that you are happy."

And this was Heidi’s goal, to ensure that I had the information I needed to make an informed decision about my food allergy needs and what she was cooking and to give me the space, as a gracious hostess, and without judgment, to bring my own food to her spectacular table, if that was my need.

For me, this Thanksgiving was cooking, baking, bringing and eating. And it was lovely. 

PS Heidi, Brooklyn Allergy Mom's turkey was de-lish!

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