Food Allergies in Summer Need Not Spoil Your Fun

 In Eating Out with Food Allergies, Food Allergies in Children, Traveling with Food Allergies

Summer spells fun for the whole family, so don’t let food allergies put a damper on your picnic, barbecue, outdoor sports or whatever your favorite summer fun is. With just a little preparation, the entire family can enjoy the summer months without the worry of allergic food reactions.

Here are some tips to help with your food allergies – keeping food allergens off the menu, whether you’re in your own backyard, on the beach or camping out.

  • Individual condiment packs – Instead of large containers of condiments, use individual-sized packets of ketchup, mustard, relish and mayonnaise. These condiment packs will prevent cross contamination that can occur when sharing large containers.
  • Pack foods separately  When preparing for a get-together away from home, pack allergenic and non-allergenic foods in separate containers.
  • Snack packs – If you are packing peanut snacks or any food containing peanuts, be extra careful they are clearly identified on the package. Be aware of anyone at the get-together who has a peanut allergy and make certain they do not have access to the peanuts. Rice cakes spread with soy or sunflower butter or jam are a good alternative. Another favorite is “Ants on a Log”: Sunflower or soy nut butter spread on celery, topped with raisins. More recipes here.
  • A plastic tablecloth – In addition to dressing up your barbecue or picnic, a tablecloth prevents guests from coming in contact with any allergy-causing food particles left on the table from previous meals.
  • Provide one serving utensil for each food item – Separate utensils help to reduce cross contamination between dishes. Also, be sure you have enough plates, cups, napkins and utensils so no one will have to share.
  • Take along medications – If you or a loved one has had allergic reactions to food in the past, be sure to have emergency epinephrine auto-injector on hand just in case unrecognized food allergens are hiding in picnic treats.
  • Serve those who are allergic first – Grill the foods for guests or family members with allergies first, or cook the items on a fresh piece of aluminum foil.  Also, allow guests with allergies to dig into the food first, before cross-contamination can occur.
  • Remember the wipes – For get-togethers in forest preserves and other natural areas, soap and water might be tough to come by, so come prepared with disinfecting wipes. Cleaning hands and faces after eating helps reduce the likelihood of allergy-causing food particles being passed during play.
  • Understand the symptoms of food allergy reactions – If you know how to recognize the symptoms of a food allergic reaction, you will be better equipped to manage the situation.
  • Check location of the nearest medical facility – Knowing the location of the nearest hospital or medical facility will alleviate concern during your outing. Plan to have a great time, but be prepared should an emergency arise.
  • Check cell phone coverage – If your picnic or barbecue is away from home, be sure you can get a cell phone signal in the area in case you need to call 911 if someone has a severe allergic reaction.

Food allergy is a serious condition, but if properly managed, you and your family can enjoy the great outdoors without worry of allergic reactions.

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