Intermountain Healthcare dietitian nutritionist gives some simple ways to craft an inclusive party menu for guests with food allergies or sensitivities.
Food allergies can present a unique challenge for party hosts. But there are some simple ways to craft an inclusive party menu for guests with food allergies or sensitivities.
“The key is to ask,” said Carly Alba, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Intermountain Healthcare. “If you’re hosting an event, be it a summer barbeque, picnic or birthday party, it’s important to reach out to your guests beforehand, on the RSVP or in a private conversation, to see if they have a food allergy you can address. Talking to guests in advance can result in a much more fun, inclusive experience for everyone.”
Food allergies and hypersensitivities affect millions of people in the United States, the FDA reports. Allergic reactions to foods can be just an irritation to life-threatening and vary from hives to anaphylaxis.
Here are some ways hosts can include guests with food allergies:
- Ask the guest what foods they can eat, and how to safely prepare and serve them.
- Know the FDA’s major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, and as of last year, sesame.
- Read the fine print. All food labels are required to state whether they contain any of the major food allergens, and whether they were processed in a facility that also processes any of the major food allergens.
- Do not serve certain foods if an allergy is severe (peanuts, for example).
- Be mindful of cross-contact. This can occur by using the same utensils, serving trays, toasters, or cutting boards that have had contact with allergen-containing foods.
- Serve a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Allergen-free bakeries or certain store-bought products also can be good options.
“Serving a variety of fresh foods and foods free of common allergens is a good way to ensure guests can eat something and be included at your party,” Alba said. “Food is often used in social settings, and a little effort up front can go a long way in building relationships.”
More information about foods and nutrition can be found at https://intermountainhealthcare.org/services/nutrition-services.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Based in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,800 employed physicians and advanced practice providers, a health plans division with more than one million members called SelectHealth, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information, see Intermountain Healthcare.