It’s that time of year again where people are busy with school and holiday parties, activities and trick-or-treating. With nearly 15 million Americans suffering from food allergies, this is a great time to be aware and learn more about food alternatives.

If you are one of the many people who suffer from food allergies, attending holiday parties may be stressful. If your child has a food allergy and you are concerned about an upcoming class party, talk with their teacher and prepare a letter they can send home with the kids. In the letter, list safe alternatives that are easy to buy or make.

Many schools do not allow homemade food. If they do, you can offer to make something that everyone can eat. If not, try and find an already made dish that is safe for everyone. If you are handing out treats this holiday season, research safe and fun treats that everyone can enjoy. This year, a trend has started where people set teal pumpkins on their porch to let everyone know they are handing out goodies that are not food (small toys, stickers, etc.). This makes it more enjoyable for those with allergies.

Holiday dinners and gatherings can also be stressful if you suffer from food allergies. To alleviate stress and the chance of an allergic reaction, talk with the host of the party and ask if there is anything you can bring. This will guarantee a safe dish for you to eat. If they are having food catered or making it themselves, let them know your allergies and maybe offer to help them cook.

Holiday parties are fun, but it is important to talk with the guests prior and find out if there are any food allergies. Peanut and shellfish allergies are two of the very serious food allergies that can cause anaphylaxis. Try to find safe cooking alternatives so that everyone has a healthy, good meal.

If you are concerned you may have food allergies, contact an Allergist. Keep a journal of what you eat and what reactions you have. A skin test and labs can be performed to diagnose your allergies. You do not have to suffer!