Today I am happy to have my friend Steph from Living Undone share some tips about extending hospitality to those with food allergies. I have a few fails in this category. Like the time I carefully made an entire meal gluten free only to realize that the soy sauce I used contained gluten. Or the time I failed to see the importance of cross-contamination.
I have many friends with celiac and other allergies. Some of them are so severe they could end up in the hospital if not treated properly. But just not having them over is not a good solution for me. Thankfully there are things we can learn.
Whether it’s a milk allergy, gluten intolerance, or a life threatening peanut allergy, extending hospitality when allergies are involved can be tricky.
As someone with severe gluten intolerance, let me share some tips for hosting those of us with allergies and intolerances.
Ask the Question
When I invite someone over I try to ask them if they have any food allergies. I do this because when I’m a guest somewhere I always find it easier to explain my needs to a host who asks, then to bring up the subject on my own.
Look for a Solution
Usually your guests will be so relieved that you’ve asked, they will give you ample indication about how to proceed. To get to the crux of the issue you can always ask, “What suggestions do you have for me in making something safe for you to eat?”
Here are some possible solutions:
Keep it Simple
If you know your guest has a food allergy and the thought of accommodating them intimidates you, keep it really simple. When someone is concerned about making a gluten free meal for me, I often suggest we get together for ice cream instead.
If you are already familiar with your guests particular allergy you might say
something like, “I know your son can’t have casein, would you mind going over my menu with me to make sure I didn’t miss something?”
Another thoughtful way to double check is by saving labels of the items you put in a dish. This way if your guest has a question you can simply show them the ingredients.
- Don’t be offended if the solution involves your guest bringing her own
food. People have different levels of sensitivity and when it comes to severe allergies, you can’t mess around. If your guest is most comfortable bringing her own food, you’re being hospitable by graciously accepting.
- Never downplay someone’s allergies or ask, “Wouldn’t it be okay if you had just one (insert whatever here)?” Allergies and food intolerances aren’t fad diets or preferences: they are a matter of health (sometimes life and death).
- Don’t feel like you need to make the entire meal something everyone can eat. It’s okay if there are some side dishes not every guest can have. Just be sure to avoid cross-contamination if that’s an issue. And point out to your guest which dishes are off limits.
showing hospitality to those with food allergies?