The Holidays: From Nuts to Trees What Makes Your Family Sneeze

Everyone gets stressed around the holidays- everyone. Too many things to get done and not enough time during the day wears us all down and leaves us teetering on the fine line of “Did I take care of that?” What makes it even more difficult for those with food allergies is when you factor in some hidden allergy triggers among the spirited chaos. What can be meant as a simple holiday item could turn out to be something so much worse if research is not done correctly and labels are not paid attention to. And although there is never a good time for an allergic reaction to happen, the last thing that you would want to do is create a new memory that ends in hysterics or critical conditions. Let me share a few guidelines so that your holiday list will include lessening the chances of an allergy trigger.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire This is a typical theme from as far back as many of us can remember hearing about. It’s a cozy memory until someone doesn’t pay attention to the labels on your bundle of wood. Many people may not even notice that some brands of firewood contain nut particles (such as pecan or walnut) because of the type of tree that it came from.  There are also some fireplace logs such as Duraflame that use nut shells in their quick lighting logs. Although tree nuts and peanuts (which are legumes) are different, they may both be ingredients that you do not want to mix with your family festivities. My tip: learn before you burn.

Pick a tree but not that one The tradition of choosing a tree for the holidays can also bring about a handful of invisible allergy triggers. That beautiful tree that is going to join you for a few weeks may contain up to fifty types of mold. Those with mold allergies could spend their holidays coughing, sneezing and rubbing their itchy eyes instead of celebrating. Opt for an artificial tree or hose down your real tree and let it dry before bringing it inside. Just keep in mind that there are also those who can also be allergic to artificial trees as well.

Let it snow Regardless of what the weather is like in your area, that cozy scene of snowy days during the holidays can be easily created with artificial snow. The danger in this- the can that dispenses the snow. The aerosol in the can also emits chemicals as well as the fake snow. Asthma sufferers could potentially be affected by these chemicals. Have your faux snow already in please a day or two before visitors arrive and avoid using the product when guests are present. For an easier, allergy-friendly option try making paper snowflakes.

Candles light the way Nothing is more festive and inviting than being surrounded by candles. Pair that with your holiday décor and it truly changes the feeling of any room. However, it could also change how someone is feeling when they walk into that room. Ingredients in candles can be just as important to pay attention to as food ingredients. Candles can contain oils and substances that can kick off an instant reaction for anyone who is hypersensitive to fragrances or the ingredients themselves. This includes soy candles as soy is fast becoming an ingredient that people are avoiding. Keep your guests in the holiday spirit by using fragrance free candles or battery operated candles.

Don’t forget the food All of us enjoy indulging in goodies, it’s a given but this is not the time to lower your allergy radar. Thankfully, there are companies that provide allergy-friendly chocolates, holiday supplies and more to allow everyone to celebrate with a smile. Chocolate Gelt items are nut free, dairy free and parve food items for those who observe Hanukkah. Amanda’s Own Confections offers both Christmas and Hanukkah goodies that are free from dairy, tree nut, peanut, egg and gluten.  Everyone with allergies should always be cautious but they should also be able to enjoy their holiday safely.

The holidays are about celebrating together and enjoying the time that we get to spend together. Remember to ask your family, friends and guests if they have any allergies that you can try to avoid to keep them more comfortable during their stay with you. Always check labels and consider simple ways to avoid turning a welcoming visit into an unplanned allergy catastrophe. With a bit of organization and fact-finding, happy holidays can stay happy for all.

About the Author

Tracy Bush is the founder and President of Nutrimom, Inc., also known as Nutrimom – Food Allergy Liason, a consulting business that specializes in providing guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. Tracy helps others with simple steps, such as finding safe, wholesome foods to supplement allergenic foods, where to shop and how to maximize their budget while adjusting to their dietary change. You can view additional information about what she does as well as her new e-book “The Stepping Stones to Food Allergies” at www.AllergyPhoods.com. Tracy is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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