Christmas is coming soon! There will be parties, pets and foods to navigate for our family. My side of the family is quite large, we have a big family party on Boxing day, I have 2 children and 8 nieces and nephews, so it is wonderfully chaotic with 10 children.
I think food allergies are genetic on my side of the family. My brother and his youngest daughter are dairy intolerant, his other 3 children all outgrew their dairy intolerances with time. All 4 of his children have egg intolerances, but are able to eat cooked egg.
My sister recently went vegan to improve her psoriasis and she has found that has really helped, her oldest and youngest sons are slightly dairy intolerant, but do have it in small amounts.
I am the only one of my siblings without intolerances to food, so it does seem unfair that my daughter, A, is the one who is severely allergic to milk, eggs and pineapple (amongst other bits and pieces). My youngest daughter was intolerant to milk as a baby, but only very mildly and grew out of it really quickly.
What do we eat at parties?
Long gone are the days of a sit down meal, where we used to eat cold meats , chips and pickles (still for me an all time favourite boxing day meal). This became impractical in terms of space over the last few years with all the extra children. This option could be considered a decent allergy-friendly meal, but A hasn’t eaten much meat since she was 3, only recently started eating chips and does not like pickles. We would always make her an alternative of fish, rice and raw vegetables (as she also does not like cooked vegetables). This is still her favourite meal.
We now do a Boxing Day buffet and the 4 families bring leftovers from Christmas Day and whatever we have baked/cooked. Things my daughter loves at the buffet are:
- jelly (making sure it’s vegan for my sister)
- homemade ginger biscuits (recipe has no eggs and uses a dairy free spread to replace butter)
- homemade chocolate concrete (dairy and egg free) – I bake without recipe – still making since 2012!
- rice (which goes with the turkey curry/chilli, she doesn’t like spicy food – but loves the rice)
- crisps (salt and vinegar and cheese and onion both have dairy in them, once set out in a bowl they look the same no matter the flavour – so always plain ready salted)
- jam tarts (my mother made these for years as egg free jam tarts are hard to find, but we have recently found that Asda do them and they are very reasonably priced)
- vegan cupcakes (usually found from Pinterest, changes every year as I have never found one that my daughter loves – she does not like the cakey texture, the other children always eat them no matter A’s opinion)
- popcorn – salty or sweet but never toffee as that often contains milk
- raspberry sorbet – found in most UK supermarkets, dairy/egg free, raspberry is the best in our opinion
- party rings – dairy and egg free – nothing special, just a biscuit that all the kids (and my dad like)
- veggie sticks – cucumber, carrot and celery are family favourites (yes the children like celery)
- breadsticks (not cheesy or with sesame – just plain – these are nice and cheap as well)
- Haribo / Moam – only the goldbears have a pineapple one, her pineapple allergy is not that severe, we know which colour they are and pick them out
- freezer lollies – cheaper the better, we have to watch out for pineapple as it’s in more things than you think
What is banned?
The list of banned food became more and more lax as the original 8 children got older, they were less messy eaters, acutely aware of A’s allergies and better at hand-washing. We now have an incredibly messy toddler and baby in the family, so we have returned to banning a few items.
- the poor dog, my sister’s beautiful basset hound, Nora, is the first to go. A is very allergic to dogs, it exacerbates her asthma and irritates her eczema. I have never asked my sister to do this, she just thinks it’s best for all us to have a great time and not worry about medication so much. She also does a deep clean in the doggy rooms to get rid of all the hair. Nora has a wonderful time eating things she shouldn’t at her other Grandma’s house around the corner.
- Cheesy crisps, quavers, mini cheesy bites, cheese puffs, onion ring corn snacks – the dust on those things get everywhere and have led to A’s eyes closing on more than one occasion.
- Ice-cream – too messy in terms of cross contamination – A once had a reaction to touching a table where ice-cream had been spilt and then wiped (but not really cleaned). As a toddler one Christmas she had a horrible burn-like mark on her cheek from being kissed by a person who had eaten ice-cream.
- Chocolate – Christmas is the season of chocolate, but we avoid it at large get-togethers for the same reason as ice-cream, warm melted chocolate on kids hands gets wiped on every surface and door handle until a reaction is inevitable.
Family Attitudes towards our Food Allergies
It wasn’t easy when A was little, I think the family found it strange that she didn’t outgrow her allergies like the other children in the family. My side of the family really saw the severity of her allergies with the ice-cream kiss incident and have paid a lot more attention since. None of them have ever try to undermine me or offer her something that she probably shouldn’t have.
Anecdotally I hear a lot of people say that their in-laws are the worst for making mistakes and being unreasonable, especially at holiday celebrations. I have to say I am very lucky with mine. My partners side of the family is very small, his step-sister is vegan and his stepmother was a vegetarian until her 60s when she started eating fish. When A was small and we struggled they gave us lists of things we could make, made things from scratch for her and found (and continue to do so) lots of lovely vegan treats which A can enjoy. Last week they gave us Gourmet Vegan popcorn (which amused me as popcorn is mostly vegan anyway), but they are very supportive and I am glad they are part of our family!
How are your family at Christmas? Do they accommodate for your allergies?
What is your favourite allergy friendly-recipe?
Whatever you do this year have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Disclaimer – our food allergies are unlikely to be the same as your allergies, always read labels and ingredients carefully, some of the foods we have are “may contain” – these are suitable for our child, but may not be for you.
Stay Safe – always remember to take your epi-pens, inhalers and anti-histamines to parties with food.