Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois chapter.

Living with food allergies can be really hard. You feel a small twinge of anxiety every time you eat something without reading the ingredients label several times, you can’t go to half the restaurants your friends suggest and it feels like people don’t really understand unless they have allergies themselves (or a family member of theirs does). Especially around the holidays, it feels like you’re missing out on all the good food and everyone has that one relative who insists you’re probably not really allergic. But even when you’re traveling and everything seems like it’s out of your control, it’s still possible to have a safe and enjoyable holiday with foods you love and know are good for you.  

1. Ask Your Family To Host

Depending on your family traditions and how large your Thanksgiving dinner is, it might be a large favor to ask. However, prioritizing your health and safety should be important to those who care about you. Personally, I feel safest when I cook for myself or one of my parents cooks for the whole family. Most years, we have a large Thanksgiving dinner with my immediate family and then bring a dessert to share with our extended family so that we still get to see everyone. This is great because even though I have allergies and so do my siblings, we don’t have to feel worried about eating the wrong thing. 

2. Bring Your Own Food

It isn’t always possible for your family to host, especially if it’s a tradition to go to your grandparents or aunt and uncle’s house. In this case, my recommendation is to bring your own food, especially if you’ve had problems trying to eat at this relative’s house before. You can make a small dinner at home and then bring a plate or pick something up on the way (at a restaurant that you know is safe). You might be worried about offending the host, but it’s more beneficial to eat what you know is safe than to have to leave early because you’re having a reaction. Plus it’s a lot more simple than asking about every dish only to learn that you don’t have many options. Another option is to ask the host to be conscious of your allergy and to keep the food packaging just in case so that you can check the ingredients. It would be more work, but it could save you from a dangerous allergic reaction.

mashed potatoes with gravy, carrots and peppers, and steak on plate
Photo by Mohammad Fahim from Unsplash

Living with food allergies will always be hard, but that doesn’t mean it has to be dangerous. In fact, it forces you to become more educated about what goes into your body and helps you to make healthier choices. It means you get to be more creative and discover what makes your body feel best.  

grateful sign
Photo by Dylan Ferreira from Unsplash

Andrea Wilcox

Illinois '22

I'm a junior at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying Actuarial Science and Communication. In my free time, I like to drink tea, draw and write.
The official page for the University of Illinois Her Campus chapter.