June 3, 2011

In the news: Simple party planning tips for food-allergic guests

CNN recently wrote a piece about allergy-friendly party planning.  It offers suggestions on how non-allergic families can create safer, more inclusive parties.  Steps such as asking guests to list dietary restrictions in their replies, including a couple of allergy-free dishes, and filling pinatas and goodie bags with non-food items can go a long way in making food-allergic guests feel just like every other guest.

As a mom of kids with multiple food allergies I am used to the drill of packing safe party food and dessert whenever we go out.  I appreciate it when parents offer to provide a separate safe treat for my kids.  But to be honest, I often decline because I worry about cross contamination and dangerous gaps in knowledge about their specific food allergies.  If an allergic reaction occurred, I would feel awful for my kids but also for the person who was just trying to be accommodating.  Another thing is I hate to inconvenience hosts -- I've thrown enough parties to know it's a lot of work!  But when hosts insist on making safe cupcakes for the whole party and serving fresh fruit and homemade dishes that have been vetted by me, I am grateful.  That's when I feel safest for my kids to partake.
While others had pizza, Ryken ate salmon pasta made especially for him.

Despite my own worries, the party tips mentioned in the article are great.  And the fact that this article was written and posted on CNN is even more great.  I cheer every time food allergies makes the news because this means awareness is growing.  And with more awareness, there is more hope for understanding and accommodation.

CNN got some of its party-planning tips from Sandra Beasley, a poet-writer who has managed severe and numerous lifelong food allergies.  Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales From an Allergic Life is Beasley's humorous reflection on growing up with food allergies.  Early reviews have described Beasley's memoir as an insightful, witty must-read for food-allergic families.  I for one am looking forward to reading this!  The book will hit the shelves this July. 

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