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Poll: Does the host or people bringing food have an obligation to work around food allergies/intolerances?


Lisa R.
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What food should people prepare?  

169 members have voted

  1. 1. Visiting family member has one food allergy/intolerance to a common ingredient.

    • Those bringing food should prepare a dish that does not contain this ingredient.
      36
    • Those bringing food should prepare a dish whether or not they contained this ingredient.
      26
    • I assume the person with the food allergy/intolerance will bring their own food or choose among food they can eat.
      136
    • All food served should be food this guest can eat.
      5
  2. 2. Visiting family member has two food allergies/intolerances to common ingredients.

    • Those bringing food are should prepare a dish that does not contain this ingredients.
      32
    • Those bringing food should prepare a dish whether or not they contained these ingredients.
      26
    • I assume the person with the food allergies/intolerances will bring their own food or choose among food they can eat.
      141
    • All food served should be food this guest can eat.
      4


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I see posts on people with food allergies/intolerances that are frustrated at meals at other houses.

 

What obligation does the host or others bringing food have for the guests that may have a food allergy/intolerance?

 

For the purposes of this poll, let's assume no one has a life-threatening allergy that even being in the presence of this food would be dangerous. For example, some can not be in the same house with a peanut butter sandwich on someone else's plate. This is not what we're talking about here.

 

Let's also assume it is an intolerance/allergy to a common ingredient such as gluten or dairy or corn.

 

Yes, I understand there is a difference between an allergy and intolerance. However, since many do not understand the difference, let's keep both options in the poll since these words are incorrectly used interchangeably by those who aren't informed.

 

So, you are having a party. A Guest is coming that has one allergy/intolerance. Do you work around it? Do you insist that everyone contributing food work around it? If you are another guest bringing one dish, do you work around it?

 

What if this Guest has two or even more than two food allergies/intolerance? Do you still work around it? Is this too much to ask if there is more than one food to work around? Would you know how to prepare food for a group working around two common food ingredients?

 

 

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I think it's nice if some of the offerings are okay for sensitive person. The family I know well  always bring foods that are allergy free so they don't have to worry about it. It was always matter of fact with the child. You know, "too bad, so sad but here I made your favorite whatever."

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If it's something easy to work around, like if they were allergic to apricots let's say, I think it would be nice for people to try to find recipes without it. But with dairy or gluten, it's just not reasonable to expect people who have no experience cooking gluten or dairy free to bring dishes without it. Many of the gluten or dairy free alternatives are expensive and can be hard to work with. It's nice if people want to do that, but I certainly wouldn't expect or require it.

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As the host or guest I would try to keep in mind the issue but it would not stop me from bringing Dh's Pecan Pies or my Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.  What I would probably do as the guest is make an additional side similar to what I'm bringing if it's an easy fix.  Like DD is vegetarian so no bacon in a smaller bowl of Pasta Salad.  I might even buy gluten free pasta for an additional bowl of salad.  As the host I would also try to make sure there was something I'm providing for the person to eat but in neither scenario  would I revamp the entire menu to accommodate them.  Mainly because they know their issues and can adjust for themselves (we'll be taking several dishes to my mom's for DD and separate ham for DS and I, because glaze is gross). I would also call the other person and let them know what I have that should be okay for them so they can plan accordingly.

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the option didn't really fit.

 

in the past when we've had the big family thanksgiving - we have some with celiac.  it was also potluck, just based on the sheer number of people.  those with celiac would bring a dish or two.  plus, some would bring dishes they could eat.  they would bring dishes they would eat.  I also attempted to provide GF comparable items to main items, specifically for them.

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I have a few family members who are vegetarian.  As host, I make sure there are at least 2 items they can have from the main meal and then when everyone is telling what they are going to bring, I make sure there are few other items on the menu also. In my family, each guest also brings something, so the guest will presumably bring something for themselves also.  At meal time,  other family members chime in and let the guest know if their dish was also vegetarian.  The vegetarians at my dinner today had: fresh veggies from a platter, a dinner salad, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, dinner roll, cranberries, and they brought their own tofu turkey and gravy.

 

In the past when they arrived for a family dinner that was lasagna, I had made them their own vegetarian lasagna, because I didn't want them to only have salad and bread. 

 

I found out after dinner that one of my guests avoids gluten.  She is not allergic per se, just avoids it.  She found plenty to eat and I didn't even know until after dinner.  (cross contamination wasn't an issue for her)

 

When I had a daughter allergic to milk, I did the same thing when we went to other family member's homes.  I knew there would be a few obvious things I could feed her from the common menu, and then I brought the rest already prepared for her. 

 

If someone had severe celiac, or an anaphalactic allergy to a common food, I would expect them to bring their own.....probably because I would.

Edited by Tap
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Unless it were lift-threatening, I wouldn't expect everyone to center their meals around food allergies.  For example, if someone is gluten-free, I wouldn't expect the host to prepare a gluten-free Thanksgiving.  There is probably always gluten-free choices at a big meal, and the person who is gluten-free can certainly bring something that they can eat.

 

We have two GF kids in our family, and we would never presume that other people would center their meals around them.  My kids are in their 20's though now, and would probably just bring a dish to share that is GF or maybe some hardboiled eggs for themselves, and think nothing of it.  They would, however, think it very kind (and unexpected) if the host made an effort to include some special GF version of everyone else's main dish, for example. 

 

I guess it would be different if we were inviting a family over who was all vegetarian.  I mean, then it would be weird to serve a meat and potatoes type meal.

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Most things I don't find it hard to work around.  My uncle can't eat dairy products: it's absolutely no trouble to produce an entire meal without dairy.  I've made no-gluten meals (not to caeliac standards - I'd ask for advice on that), vegetarian meals, vegan meals.  We all just eat the same food.

 

If it was a traditional meal, like Thanksgiving, I'd make sure that almost all of the food was suitable for that person, and tell them if there were one or two dishes that were not.

 

I think that I could cope with two intolerances without a problem.  Three might start to get tricky:

 

Thanksgiving for one vegan and one gluten-free: turkey and ham, cranberry sauce, non-gluten dressing (plus gluten dressing if necessary for the sake of tradition), vegan sausages (for the vegan and anyone else), roast potatoes, steamed beans with olive oil (cheese sauce to one side so that the vegan and the gluten-free can avoid); pumpkin/pecan pie and fruit salad for dessert.

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Why are you inviting people to your house to share a meal? Presumably it is because you love them (or like them very much) and want them to be part of your life.

 

If that's true, why wouldn't you want to include them as much as possible? Whether or not it is your obligation to make an effort to meet their dietary needs, it certainly behooves you to at least try. It may be that you really can't manage it - perhaps the risk of cross contamination and conflicting intrapersonal food restrictions is such that it's best to just do a potluck and hope for the best - but if you can, you ought to. (And if you don't love them and want them to be part of your life, then maybe you shouldn't be inviting them over to your house. I'm sure the feeling is mutual, and you'll both feel better if you give up the farce.)

 

With that said, it's not the obligation of guests at a potluck to take into account one person's needs unless there are some special circumstances - say, if it IS life or death.

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A lot of us do have life and death allergies. That still doesn't mean someone needs to accomodate us - it means *we* need to be more careful and not trust even supposedly safe food if we didn't prepare it ourselves. Accommodation is nice, but some allergies and multiple allergies are just plain tricky.

 

I don't expect even those who love me or my kids to deal with them, I just expect an ingredient rundown if I ask.

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I'm that person (with celiac) and I've been in just about every type of social dining experience in the 21 years since I've been gluten free.  So I've been trying to think through what I'd like.

 

Obligation is a strong word, and I wouldn't use it for much.  I think hosts should allow allergic guests to bring their own food and not make them feel like an outcast.  They should not make a big deal that they already have the menu planned and extra dishes will disturb the balance. Or if it is formal, and that big of a deal, let guests know so they can bring plates to be quietly switched with the meal, or maybe let the guests talk to the caterer and pay up to have a safe meal.  Maybe it's the introvert in me, but I really want to be invisible at these things.

 

I would never expect a host or other guests to make a meal suited for me.  Yes, it is nice, but it is lots of work to do it right, and it becomes quite awkward when it is not.  "I made the casserole with no flour, so you could eat it."  "Looks good, what all's in it?"  "Just the vegetables and cream of mushroom soup."  It is just awful when someone uninformed goes to trouble to make something and you have to tell them you can't eat it.  (Or in the first few years, you take them at their word and get violently ill!) 

 

Things that are nice:  

  • Call the guest ahead of time.  Tell them what you can do: "I'm not comfortable cooking for allergies," "My nephew is allergic to X, I completely understand,"  "George has celiac and is bringing a couple of dishes, could you bring a couple, too?" "It's formal, so can you bring a plate for me to switch out in the kitchen and serve you?"
  • If what you happen to be cooking might be acceptable, ask the guest for minor alterations...dressing or croutons on the side, X brand of mayo, GF crackers with the dip (or a separate bowl of dip),...
  • Separate allergen-free dishes at a potluck, so that people don't switch out utensils and ruin what was a safe food.
  • Don't be offended if someone just isn't comfortable eating food cooked in other kitchens and wants to eat only food from home.
  • Don't be offended if they ask questions about the ingredients or preparation.

What I do:

I'm pretty comfortable cooking for different diets.  I always send out an e-mail to ask what people can't eat (and how serious the allergy is.)  I encourage them to let me know what the best way to handle things. I let them know what dishes I can likely adapt.  I admit (to them) I'm very nervous about cooking for anaphylaxis...My kitchen has never been cleaner than the day I was asked to cook for a peanut allergic individual. 

 

At a big buffet thing, I always try to make sure there are at least two safe things each allergic person can eat.  I always have recipes and labels available. I always welcome people to bring whatever they want just for themselves or to share.  I set things up so that food can be segregated (if nothing else, because at a potluck people might be bringing gluten into my gluten-free kitchen.)  I do not always make the whole menu fit everyone's allergies (anaphylaxis excepted), because sometimes I've found their family members appreciate things that they don't get at home, but I try for a balance so that everyone has yummy things. 

 

Another thing I've started doing is always having a wider selection than normal of plain food segregated, so people who aren't comfortable talking about food can pick plain things...I put my bananas out, I wash some apples and grapes, there are always bowls of raw veggies, sometimes I have cut melons, I always have cheese squares on a separate plate.  Potlucks seem to always be full of mixed dishes which makes it hard for people to guess what they can eat.  Back in the dark ages of celiac in the US, I survived off the plate of grapes or raw veggies at events.

Edited by Joules
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I think a little of both. My mom is great with my food restrictions. I am a vegetarian who is dairy intolerant. My little sis has been a vegetarian since she was 14, so my parents have practice for that. My dairy issues have my mom getting creative. This year she did vegan scalloped potatoes, a cranberry/Brussel sprout/butternut squash side, as well as several other safe sides. I brought the fake sausages that my sister and I like. For Christmas I have marching orders for my mac n cheese which I guess I will make even though I can't eat it. She even made sure I had a good sized leftover container because MIL is clueless. My MIL doesn't understand that chicken bullion is not vegetarian friendly and "just a little bit" of dairy is really off limits. I told my MIL all week to not worry about me because I honestly can't trust anything she makes. I ate my yummy leftovers and deviled eggs at her house yesterday.

 

If I know someone has a food allergy, I try hard to remember them in potluck situations. I will even print the recipe for the person to look over. I hate being the one standing around eating only the one thing I bring. My SIL is sensitive to all sugar substitutes but my DH needs them so I have to warn her to avoid some things I bring (typically cranberry sauce and an occasional pumpkin pie).

 

If I had a life and death allergy, then I would bring my own food in a container for myself only. I wouldn't trust anyone else's kitchen to avoid potential cross contamination (well except my mom). If it is a peanut allergy, I would hope that everyone would avoid using obvious peanuts, aka peanut butter cookies), but I still wouldn't eat what they brought.

Edited by jenn-
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My dh has a life threatening allergy. It tends to work differently in different situations. Honestly, we don't get asked over much. The one friend who does, does try to make a main dish that works and she usually assigns a dessert to me and a plain green salad to someone else. Other folks get to bring whatever. In other words, she makes sure there is something to eat for him. However, I would be happy to bring his entire meal.

 

For family-- well, both sides do try to find something that works. I will often bring ingredients to my mom's house, though-- he can only have organic of certain herbs. She has bought special sugar, though. And for holiday meals I make at least one dessert he can have and then he just eats what he knows is safe. My mom still makes stuffing he can't eat--but he can have the mashed potatoes.

I kind of wish it were easier to say well just bring his meal. Folks are intimidated b/c he is allergic to sulfites a which is in a lot of things--particularly things thrown in for flavoring that you hardly think of. I would love it if someone said--I'd love to have you over but I'm nervous can you bring his food .

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Too many variables.  It would depend on the food issue, how well you trust people to take it seriously, how well you trust them to cook without cross contamination...

 

My aunt has celiac disease and hosts most family get togethers.  In her own house, most of the food at these events is NOT gluten-free.  And I don't usually bring anything gf unless it's store bought, because I'm positive everything in my kitchen is contaminated.  Lots of little cooks around here!  When she comes here, or we have an event somewhere else, we make sure there's prepackaged or no-risk/low-prep foods available.

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I didn't answer the poll because it doesn't quite fit my opinion. If I am hosting and I know one of my guests has a food intolerance or allergy (whether one or multi), or if they have a philosophical opposition to some kind of food (i.e., ethical vegan), I will be certain to provide at least one dish of substance this person can eat. If I am merely another person bringing food but I know cousin Jill is alergic to walnuts, I may make a non-walnutty thing, but I also don't feel the primary obligation is on me. (This is moreso if there are multiple foods to avaoid, or large categories.)

 

If I am attending somewhere and I or my kid cannot eat some item, I am bringing a dish that is suitable; I would never make my kid sit by with no suitable item to eat. I don't care *who* the host is or whether or not they want me to bring additional food.

 

There is a hosting rule I heard or read long ago that said when you are planning a menu for a party, vary the dishes so that some ingredient does not repeat in dish after dish. I still keep that in the back of my mind when I host parties.

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My dh has a life threatening allergy. It tends to work differently in different situations. Honestly, we don't get asked over much. The one friend who does, does try to make a main dish that works and she usually assigns a dessert to me and a plain green salad to someone else. Other folks get to bring whatever. In other words, she makes sure there is something to eat for him. However, I would be happy to bring his entire meal.

 

For family-- well, both sides do try to find something that works. I will often bring ingredients to my mom's house, though-- he can only have organic of certain herbs. She has bought special sugar, though. And for holiday meals I make at least one dessert he can have and then he just eats what he knows is safe. My mom still makes stuffing he can't eat--but he can have the mashed potatoes.

I kind of wish it were easier to say well just bring his meal. Folks are intimidated b/c he is allergic to sulfites a which is in a lot of things--particularly things thrown in for flavoring that you hardly think of. I would love it if someone said--I'd love to have you over but I'm nervous can you bring his food .

I have said before, "I know Bob has multiple rare food allergies and I confess, I am very intimidated about making something that won't kill him. Can you tell me exactly what I should buy or have for him to eat?" This person brings their own food.

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Let me add that my niece is peanut allergic only whereas my son is peanut plus dairy, egg, and tree nut. I do ensure everything I fix is peanut free and would even if my son weren't allergic. But I know they also don't assume others will do the same and bring her safe food.

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I would never expect others to fix special food for me. Only in the last 3 years have I become unable to eat dairy and grains. Why in the world would I expect everyone else to suffer my fate? I always bring my own food and wouldn't want to trust what others had fixed for me to eat anyway.

 

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If I invite someone, then I want that person to feel welcome. I small going to do my best to make sure there's something to eat on the table.

 

Isn't that part of hosting? If the event us focused on food and people can't eat it I would not feel I was providing as a host.

 

Yesterday my SIL hosted. My family is gf. The dh of my other SIL is vegan. There were two other families and a couple single people in attendance with no intolerances. We had lots of food. Much that my family could eat and much that BIL could eat.

 

This isn't hard:

wild rice salad GF and vegan

Roasted vegetables gf and vegan

Green beans steamed gf and vegan

Whipped sweet potatoes gf and vegan

Mashed potatoes gf

Rolls vegan

Dressing vegan

Turkey gf

Cranberry sauce gf and vegan

Cranberry relish gf and vegan

Pumpkin cheesecake gf

Poached pears gf and vegan

Persimmon pudding gf and vegan

Pecan seet potato pie gf

And more

 

Everyone knew the restrictions. Most traditional dishes need little altering to be made gf or vegan. My wild rice was made with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. SIL used gf cookies to make pie crusts. She didn't put cream or butter in the sweet potatoes so they could be vegan. A lot of things need no altering, just good food handling to avoid cross contamination.

 

If I had an event and invited people with anaphylaxis, I make the dinner completely free of problem ingredients. It's ok if they still bring their own food. Some people have reactions even if they don't eat the food, so it's better with the more serious reactions to not have it around for someone to touch or breath.

 

I invite people I want them to feel welcome. I want them to feel they can participate in the activity I planned. I want them to feel safe.

 

I do not want anyone to think I invited them, but I do not care for them.

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I voted that I assume the person with the allergy or intolerance would bring their own or choose what they could eat, however, I would add that I do think it's good hospitality as a host to make sure that there are also a good variety of foods for that person to eat. 

 

We have a lot of diabetics in the family, which isn't in the OP but I think somewhat falls in the same category. When FIL was alive someone (usually SIL) always made sure there was a sugar-free dessert option for him. He preferred the same dessert but made with Splenda so that is what she made for him. My BIL prefers to count carbs and will eat a little bit of one regular dessert and just factor it into his entire carb count. If we're having him over I will make sure not to make pasta or something that is problematic for him but there will likely be things at any big feast like Thanksgiving that he can't eat. 

 

We have a son who is vegetarian by choice. When people ask us over who know that he is vegetarian they typically ask about what to make for him. I usually respond that I'll bring something for him and not to worry about it. He's also a picky eater so it's tough to cook for him. I'll bring a dish that he will eat and that we can also share and then he'll usually find something else to eat. 

 

The hardest meal I had to try to plan for was having a friend's brother other who was vegan and diabetic. Basically we had a lot of salad. :) I might have been more creative now but it was kind of a last minute thing. 

 

 

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Eh, it depends.

 

I am thinking about the sweet potato dish I made yesterday.  It had milk in the main part, and wheat for the topping.  I could have used almond milk and changed the topping to use corn flakes pretty easily.

 

However, if it is a major change, like not making my buffalo dip because it has cream cheese and cheese in it, I would just make it for those who could eat it.

 

Egg allergies would be more difficult since it is the binder in most dishes.

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I have always asked guests if they are allergic to any foods or if they have any dietary restrictions, or if they are vegetarians, or if there are any foods they absolutely do not like. 40 years ago, this was not normal to do, and people who didn't have any problems with food were surprised.  BUT people who did have food restrictions were surprised and delighted to be consulted.

 

When I invite people to eat a meal, I want them to be able to enjoy the food. That is one of the main reasons I like to cook; I like to see people eat food they love and that I cooked.

 

The only glitch I had was at a dinner party when one of the desserts I served was German chocolate cake, at the request of of a husband.  The couple were Jewish, and the wife threw a fit because I had served a German food. For the record, German chocolate cake is an American food, through and through. We didn't invite that couple again, obviously.  I was pretty angry about her behavior, and another guest made things even worse by telling her I was born in Germany and my mother was a German, by way of explaining that I would know that the cake was not a German recipe. Her husband was appalled since he had requested the dessert.

 

I do not serve German chocolate cake as one of the desserts at dinner parties any more. Problem solved! 

 

I didn't answer the poll because I didn't agree with any of the choices.  My take on it is that if a guest is allergic to one or two common ingredients, then I will make sure that for each menu category, there is a food available that person can eat and likes to eat, by making it myself (unless they offer to bring it). Sometimes it is a fun challenge for me, and sometimes I make two of what I was planning and leave the offensive ingredients out of one dish. I have a vegetarian friend who loves lasangna. So I make one especially for her and she gets to take home the leftovers. 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by RoughCollie
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I think there are a LOT of variables, and that as with most things it's a two way street.

 

If I or one of my immediate family had a life threatening allergy I sure wouldn't trust any dish someone else had prepared.

 

If I were the hostess I'd do my best to have at least a few things anyone with a known to me food allergy/intolerance/preferred way of eating could eat.  But really -- food allergies/intolerances/preferred ways of eating are becoming so common nowadays that in a gathering of any size you may have to accommodate many different issues.  Several people could have an allergy, a person or two might be diabetic, someone is trying to eat Paleo, someone is a vegetarian, etc.  It could get really difficult.  Maybe this is one reason it seems that fewer people entertain nowadays??

 

As someone who has lactose intolerance and overall tries to eat a low FODMAP diet and who in the past has been a vegetarian -- I never expect a host or hostess to accommodate me.  I either bring a dish or nibble on whatever is available to tide me over until I get home and can get something more substantial.  I never found it to be anything to make an issue over.  But to my way of thinking the main point of gatherings is to socialize with people, not eat.

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I didn't answer the poll because none of the options quite seemed to fit. For me, it's less a "should" and more a "would be nice to so I would try to," at least on the part of other guests. On the part of the host, there is a bit more responsibility.

 

As the host, I would try to make sure there were several dishes the sensitive/allergic person could eat. I would coordinate with that person--offering suggestions of what I would prepare and asking what they'd be bringing to avoid duplication. If it were an easy modification, I'd modify as many dishes as I reasonably could so that that person could have as close as possible to the same choices as everyone else. (This is what I did when I hosted a vegetarian for Thanksgiving one year as well--open communication, let her pick what she wanted to bring, modified the gravy recipe so it was vegetarian, already had several other normally vegetarian dishes planned, etc.) If there were multiple sensitivities/allergies, or one that was particularly difficult to work with, as the host, I'd ask the person for recipes I could prepare for them. (If they said "Don't worry about it, I'll bring my own," I'd be grateful, but I would prepare their food if they provided recipes.) To me, it's part of being a good host to try to ensure that you offer food for everyone.

 

If it were a gathering where I wasn't the host but knew that one attendee had sensitivities, I would try to prepare a dish that person could eat, but as not-the-host, I wouldn't feel as bad if I couldn't.

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I care about all my guests, so I'd make sure there was stuff for the allergy sufferer, but I wouldn't take away dishes others enjoy and cater the whole meal to one set of allergies. Thanksgiving, for example, would be sad without my mom's green bean casserole or stuffing recipe, but we make sure to also have the favorite foods there of the kids who have allergies. My son has multiple food allergies as do my niece and nephew, and this approach has always worked well for us.

 

If my son goes to an event where there will be food, we do not expect the host to cater to his allergies and do not want them to unless we really know that they know what they are doing. It can be very awkward if someone makes a special effort, but we don't feel confident enough to eat the food. Also, with younger children, they can be picky and just not want the special food. Lots of variables, as others have said.

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Sorry but here's another who couldn't find the right answer in a poll!

 

If I  know someone with an allergy or intolerance is coming to my house, and there will be food, I will be sure there is something they can eat.   I don't require other guests to also bring something. For one thing, the allergy person has no reason to trust that when some random stranger says "oh yeah, it's dairy free" it's actually true.   The folks with allergies in my life know  and trust that my food is OK.

 

We used to know a family in which one child could not have corn or cane products.  Complicated!    They brought most of their own food but I made a cake sweetened with maple syrup. I just wanted the child to be able to eat something not brought from home. I cleared the ingredients with her mom first.   It worked out fine.

 

 

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The poll didn't fit with my opinion.

 

I think it's nice if the host has an extra dish or two that will be allergy free... but not everyone bringing food.  Of course, I would hope the person or family with the issue would also contribute what they can eat..  I like trying new recipes and I'd love to learn how to cook xyz if it's something that turns out to be popular.

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This kind of depends on the circumstances.  

 

We deal with food allergies and intolerances in our family.  I don't eat wheat, and oldest dd has nut and fruit allergies.  I've been to meals in which people were very aware of my issues and there were like two veggies I could eat and that was it.  It was close family and rather frustrating.  However, I DID bring something I could eat, and felt grumpy about the eyes I got over only eating my food.  (then there was the time that MIL told us that she'd made a certain dessert that always had peanut butter in it WITHOUT peanut butter so dd could eat it...then after dd put a bite in her mouth and tasted peanut butter, MIL said that she'd just not put it in half the dessert, but baked it in the same pan! )

However, when I'm visiting other houses that are NOT close family, then I don't expect accommodation at all.  I just ask lots of questions, and try to bring at least one thing we can eat.

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I think it is nice if the host prepares something that works, but it isn't the host's obligation. The host might want to ask and work around it if it is feasible. 

 

What I consider feasible: cooking one pumpkin pie with crust and one without for someone with gluten intolerance, leaving bacon bits on the side for salad if a vegetarian is coming, making stuffing without bacon or sausage for a muslim guest.

 

People I know who have had celiac and peanut allergies have forbidden me to cook for them because they said it would be so easy for me to contaminate their food and they didn't want to take the risk. I only was allowed to feed such children when I had the food made at a certain allergy-free bakery, but I did go to the extra expense and work because I wanted to be hospitable. When I use chicken base, for example, the food likely has gluten in it, but uninitiated wouldn't know that.

 

I guess I'm saying that it should be appreciated when someone shows the effort. It is loving when someone shows effort. But it is expensive in time and money (even if there are cheap fixes, people who aren't familiar may not know of them), and should be viewed as a gracious effort and not a given. 

 

Emily

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I didn't vote in the poll, because none of them quite matched what I think.

 

I think the host should make an attempt to accommodate the food issue. FIL had trouble with dairy for a while. I used coconut oil and coconut cream in pumpkin pie and made some other dishes with dairy subs that he could eat. No problem. He had to skip the macaroni and cheese, but he could eat most, if not all, of the dishes served. If someone were allergic to turkey, I'd add a pork roast or something like that to the table, and anyone could choose. When I host a big TG dinner, everyone brings a few dishes, so I might ask someone who was used to cooking GF to bring one or some of the traditionally heavy bread items (stuffing, rolls, cornbread, pie), only because I would not have confidence in my ability to make a good GF dish since I don't do it regularly. Substitute arrowroot for flour as a thickener? Sure, I can do that and would happily do so. Make GF cornbread? I'd happily try, but I'll bet someone who does it regularly will do a better job.

 

As a hostess, I want people to feel comfortable. To me, that means they should be able to eat the majority of the food or at least a decent meal's worth, and they should have at least one comparable item for dessert, especially if it's a reasonably easy thing to accommodate (comparable to me means a safe pie or cake, rather than plain ice cream when everyone else is having pie). Your child can't have nuts? Okay, I'll leave them off the sweet potatoes, and I'll put them in a small dish for people to add separately to the salad, and you tell me what kind of ice cream your child likes instead of moose tracks, and I'll watch the moose tracks and its spoon myself to make sure there's no cross contamination (that's what I do at our homeschool group's ice cream social). Gluten or dairy free, or vegan? I will ask you what I should look for on labels or ask for a good recipe or brand recommendations, leave cheese and croutons on the side, ask you to suggest some vegan sides, whatever.

 

At the same time, it may also depend on how serious the intolerance or allergy is. Trace amounts of gluten an issue? Can I overcome it by getting a new bowl and pie plate? Done. (And then I will label those as GF and keep them for you for next time.). Need more than that? That might be really difficult, and I'd worry very much about a trace hurting you. I'd go with whatever you were comfortable with. If it's safer, you bring your own food. If I can accommodate it, even with a bit of effort, I will. I can't buy an entire new kitchen outfit, but I can buy a couple of dishes if that helps. I think the person with the allergy/intolerance/strong preference or that child's parent should ask what he/she can bring that would make the meal easiest for everyone, whether that's a full meal or a couple of sides.

 

Of course, it's probably like much else in life. If both the host and the guest offer what they can, they meet in the middle and find a solution that helps everyone. Guest has plenty to eat, even if it isn't every single dish on the table, but without putting excessive pressure on the host. And we remember that showing our love for each other by extending ourselves out of our easy comfort zones and making people feel welcome is more important than what we actually eat.

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If I am the host, I will make at least one safe dish (probably more than one) for the person AND anyone else to eat. 

 

If the person has a nut allergy, something that can kill them via even a trace amount, then I will NOT use nuts in anything - and will ask anyone else bringing food to please avoid nuts. 

 

My MIL used to have her throat close up at the slightest hint of any corn product - and corn products are  in just about every processed food you can buy.  Think corn startch, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose etc.

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This kind of depends on the circumstances.  

 

We deal with food allergies and intolerances in our family.  I don't eat wheat, and oldest dd has nut and fruit allergies.  I've been to meals in which people were very aware of my issues and there were like two veggies I could eat and that was it.  It was close family and rather frustrating.  However, I DID bring something I could eat, and felt grumpy about the eyes I got over only eating my food.  (then there was the time that MIL told us that she'd made a certain dessert that always had peanut butter in it WITHOUT peanut butter so dd could eat it...then after dd put a bite in her mouth and tasted peanut butter, MIL said that she'd just not put it in half the dessert, but baked it in the same pan! )

 

However, when I'm visiting other houses that are NOT close family, then I don't expect accommodation at all.  I just ask lots of questions, and try to bring at least one thing we can eat.

This is the sort of thing that makes me say "it is nice but not to be expected." Your MIL thought she was doing the right thing - but didn't know enough to do it right. I've done that before, like when I bought "gluten-free" crackers that had a soy-derivative in them that rendered them unsafe for celiac disease sufferers. Or I've used store bought stock that made my dish unsafe for a sufferer of celiac disease.

 

I would never assume anything in my house was peanut free because I have a three-year-old who helps himself to peanut butter in the fridge. 

 

Emily

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I expect to bring safe food, but the host should  provide something edible. For instance, when avoiding dairy, the host should refrain from adding dairy every single dish. I once attended a holiday meal in which there was cheese on literally everything. Even the green salad. I still wonder if it was intentional.

I don't expect anyone to dictate to the guests what they may or may not bring, unless it's life or death.

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I couldn't vote - none of them matched my opinion. I think it depends - it depends on the severity of the allergies, the commonness of the food involved, the food culture in the family, how long this person has been a common guest so everyone is used to accommodating him or her...

 

Ideally, I think the allergic person and the host have a conversation and decide what makes the most sense. I would think the host should usually make at least some dishes with the allergy or allergies in mind or put out a request that some of the potluck dishes be made safely. But not all necessarily, especially if it's a common ingredient. And sometimes the allergic person would rather not eat food prepared in someone else's kitchen. I think it's just easier to talk about it and decide for the individual situation than to have a blanket rule. Allergies are different, gatherings with allergic people will be too.

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A lot of us do have life and death allergies. That still doesn't mean someone needs to accomodate us - it means *we* need to be more careful and not trust even supposedly safe food if we didn't prepare it ourselves. Accommodation is nice, but some allergies and multiple allergies are just plain tricky.

 

I don't expect even those who love me or my kids to deal with them, I just expect an ingredient rundown if I ask.

You are sweet not to expect anyone to accommodate you, and if they're life and death allergies, it might not be possible to accommodate you. But I feel like as a hostess, I should ask what I can do for you, and I expect that you would be honest with me. If there's something I CAN do, I'd expect that you'd tell me and let me love you by making the extra effort. If it truly isn't safe for me to attempt anything for you, then I'd expect you to say so, and I'd expect you to bring food for yourself.

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When *I* invite a guest, I intend to act as a host to them, and have an obligation to ensure that they can have a pleasant time -- within reason, to the best of my ability. Whether my guests are infants or elderly, blind or diabetic, intolerant, allergic or vegan... If I invite them, I'm their host, and I'm going to act like it.

 

That means that I ensure that they can eat and enjoy a significant portion of what I offer. There may be some items that won't work: I don't need to make everything work, just that they have a good overall experience.

 

My other guests are not the hosts of my guest with food restrictions. They are not obligated. I might mention the issue like, "Whoever can't have whatever, so if you've got a way to make an easy adaptation or two that would be lovely. If it's not going to work, that's fine too. She isn't going to be eating everything anyways."

 

If the food restrictions are just beyond me, I would (with and apology) tell the restrictedc person that we'd love their company, but can't figure out a good way to feed them safely/affordably (in the context of the difficulty of feeding everyone else too) -- do they have ideas? Would they like to bring their own?

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The people that I know that have life-threatening allergies have specifically said not to make special dishes for them, that they will take care of themselves.

 

I keep my nephews some in the summer. They bring their own food, partly because one of the boys is allergic to dairy. He has not had a reaction at my house, but he has at other places. You might think that I am stupid, but I didn't realize that he couldn't have goldfish. He had a reaction to a snickers bar at school. It is overwhelming for me to feed him packaged stuff because even if the label doesn't say dairy on it, a lot say process in a facility with dairy present. So, is that ok or not? (It is, but it is confusing and stressful for me.) Also, one of his brothers, who is an identical twin, was thought to be allergic to strawberries. I can hardly tell the boys apart as is let alone to be monitoring which one can have strawberries or not. So, they bring their own food and it is a huge stress off of me. (I do feed them fresh fruit and veggies, just not strawberries!)

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Sorry but here's another who couldn't find the right answer in a poll!

 

If I  know someone with an allergy or intolerance is coming to my house, and there will be food, I will be sure there is something they can eat.   I don't require other guests to also bring something. For one thing, the allergy person has no reason to trust that when some random stranger says "oh yeah, it's dairy free" it's actually true.   The folks with allergies in my life know  and trust that my food is OK.

 

We used to know a family in which one child could not have corn or cane products.  Complicated!    They brought most of their own food but I made a cake sweetened with maple syrup. I just wanted the child to be able to eat something not brought from home. I cleared the ingredients with her mom first.   It worked out fine.

 

This one bugs the begeezus out of me.  So many people think that dairy free means I don't drink milk.  They don't think about butter, sour cream, cream cheese, etc as also being dairy items.

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I cannot answer this poll because your questions aren't comprehensive enough.

 

I do have a severe reaction to wheat, though not as severe as those with peanut allergies.  My other food allergies are not severe.

 

This isn't about obligations, this is about love.  My expectations and emotions about meals vary based on the closeness of the relationship. If someone I barely know offers to host dinner, I will explain I have severe food allergies and offer to bring my own food or offer suggestions about what I can and cannot eat.  If they say they are sure they can make something gluten free, I usually put a protein bar in my purse just in case.  If I get there and they have made everything gluten free and saved the labels so I can check everything, they are likely to become very close friends.

 

If someone who is having a huge party I will ask if I should bring my own plate.  If someone insists I not bring food, or insists we go out to eat at someplace where I literally have nothing to eat (IE: If I call the restaurant and they tell me not to come because they literally do not have anything safe, including salad), my entire family will either skip the event or I eat beforehand, usually depending upon if we feel their choosing that location was due to a passive-aggressive move, or if it just didn't occur to them to think about me.  Typically when I do go to these places I stick to soda only, and usually if someone was just being thoughtless they get offended for me that the restaurant doesn't even have salad without croutons or a piece of fruit.

 

If a family member goes out of their way one year for a holiday party and makes a huge gluten free spread for me and the following year has nothing but canned chicken breast and canned green beans, I get VERY ANGRY AND HURT.  Especially if this is someone with a different severe allergy that I have gone out of my way to accommodate in the past.

 

That said, even with our closest family and friends if no one in their home also has severe allergies I go out of my way to read every label.  I've been contaminated more than once because someone forgot to read a spice jar or someone forgot that not all oats are gluten free, or because they used the wrong soy sauce. Including my mother and sister, who went out of their way to try and make everything wheat-free but simply missed one thing.

 

When I am hosting if someone has an intolerance I will go out of my way to make sure there are equally delicious alternatives without that food. If they have an allergy I keep the food out of the house and make sure everything served is okay for everyone.

 

If they say they have an allergy (say, to strawberries), and the next time I see them they're eating strawberry cream cheese on a whole wheat bagel, I ignore their allergies after that.

 

 

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As the one with allergies, I would not assume that I would be accommodated and plan on providing my own food. As the host, I would try to accommodate because to me, that is part of being a good host. This includes asking the person what sort of special accommodations they need and trying to have at least something safe for them, but probably not everything I serve. 

 

Note, I have only rarely been in this position because no one in our family (or extended family) has allergies, but we have hosted a homemade pizza party where my husband specifically made a gluten-free pizza for a particular friend or chocolate-free cookies because of chocolate issues.

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This is the sort of thing that makes me say "it is nice but not to be expected." Your MIL thought she was doing the right thing - but didn't know enough to do it right. I've done that before, like when I bought "gluten-free" crackers that had a soy-derivative in them that rendered them unsafe for celiac disease sufferers. Or I've used store bought stock that made my dish unsafe for a sufferer of celiac disease.

 

I would never assume anything in my house was peanut free because I have a three-year-old who helps himself to peanut butter in the fridge. 

 

Emily

 True.  FWIW, I didn't have a fit or anything.  I just told her that dd couldn't eat it if it was cooked like that.  (to clarify, it was made like a half and half pizza...she'd just sprinkled PB chips on half the pan.)  

 

I think part of my frustration with MIL is her attitude of "a little won't hurt".  

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People with serious food issues tend to bring their own food because they know they can at least eat *that.*

 

As the hostess, I would try to have something that the food-intolerant guest could eat, but those people often have learned not to trust food prepared by anyone else because not everyone understands what it means to be dairy-free, or wheat-free, or whatever. Seriously.

 

I did have a dinner party (not a potluck, so I was preparing all the food) once where one person couldn't have dairy or gluten, and another couldn't have onions/garlic.  That was really tricky. o_0

Edited by Ellie
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special dietary requirements should also be brought up during planning stage.  I still recall my brother going off the rail because I didn't "plan" for his dd's dietary requirements at my mother's after funeral dinner.  I pointed out, he needed to have been the one to say something - it is not *my* responsiblity to remember *his* child's requirements.  I think the only thing she couldn't eat was the salad dressing . . . .

 

I also think it was more he was mad I didn't consult him on plans  - because he'd grown up with my grandmother fawning over him.  so he expected to be in control of everything as his due.  however, my mother appointed me with poa etc.

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 True.  FWIW, I didn't have a fit or anything.  I just told her that dd couldn't eat it if it was cooked like that.  (to clarify, it was made like a half and half pizza...she'd just sprinkled PB chips on half the pan.)  

 

I think part of my frustration with MIL is her attitude of "a little won't hurt".  

 

is that like a little poison won't hurt? or a little dead?

 

I would be way beyond frustrated with that attitude.  that person wouldn't be allowed with food anywhere near my child.

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is that like a little poison won't hurt? or a little dead?

 

I would be way beyond frustrated with that attitude.  that person wouldn't be allowed with food anywhere near my child.

 

Well, my child is 18, almost 19...so now we just deal.  DD just is very careful these days with what she eats over there.  

 

Part of it is complete lack of understanding allergies.  She's slowly, over the years, realizing that yes, it is a thing.  

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