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Lisa R.

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

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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At my house, I would  ask but am secretly relieved if the person offers to bring their own food if they have severe restrictions. I have a hard enough time cooking for myself that cooking for other diets (unless they happen to match my own restrictions) is stressful. I'm not someone that enjoys cooking, meal planning, shopping for food, or anything related to the kitchen. I appreciate, though, that some people find it simple to accommodate and think it is wonderful they would do so.

And, if hosting, I'd be honest that I can't guarantee my stuff would be safe for celiac or someone with an extreme allergy to dairy even though I do know how to cook GF or DF. But I also think if someone needed that sort of restriction and wasn't just GF or mildly allergic or intolerant, they would be happy to bring their own anyway.

 

As a guest, please, please, please just let me bring my own food. Please don't talk about it beyond a sympathetic word or two. And understand, it's so different. Some people can tolerate cross contamination. Some people really will die from it. Let the allergic be the judge of what is safe and what isn't. And just because you know that one person who fakes allergies doesn't mean I'm just faking. It's not a fad diet. I really can't eat that.

Also, It's nothing personal if I don't eat your food. I say that with sympathy because I was raised by people who believed food=love and rejecting food was a rejection of love. Even knowing and believing in my allergies, it took time to not feel hurt that I couldn't eat their stuff anymore. 

It should go without saying that showing up to a dinner party and suddenly making a big deal about being  allergic and not being able to eat a bite would be rude.

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When I was merely lactose intolerant, nothing had to be done for me. I was able to tolerate dairy if I took supplements, as long as I remembered to bring them. Not a huge deal and I don't think I ever told anyone outside my family that I was intolerant.

When we had a wheat allergy (mild, was outgrown in toddlerhood) in the family, again it was easy because it wasn't severe as celiac and I really appreciated someone in my family learning to bake GF for that time period. We didn't have to worry about cc from their kitchen.

But now there's a big list of foods I can't have and I've been through anaphylactic reactions. Too difficult, so I am happy to bring my own. I had a hard time visiting someone because she constantly was searching the cupboards and asking for recipes to make for me. Just couldn't get the message through -- I'm happiest to just bring my own. If you must, make me a bowl of plain rice and I'll eat that. No, it had to be more. I kept hearing how hard it is to have someone over and not to be able to cook for them.

I understand, but what can I say? I don't feel badly that I'm eating my own food. I mean, I do miss out on my favorites at family holidays and it's a little sad, but it's safer to let me bring my own at a friend's house and I don't consider her rude or a failure for not being able to cook for me. I can barely cook for myself!

We're invited to a potluck. I noticed the invitation said to label the foods if they have nuts or peanuts. I'm not sure who asked for that because most people I know with severe nut/peanut allergies don't eat baked goods at potlucks even if they are labeled. I'm letting the host know that we're bringing a dish to share but not to include me or my allergic child in the head count because the two of us will be eating our own food.

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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.

This is pretty much what I do. If someone is coming to my home for a meal, I want them to be able to eat something. Even though we may have stuff they can't eat, there will be a few choices that they can eat. I even made a vegan pumpkin pie once for someone who doesn't eat dairy and eggs due to an intolerance. They were so happy! Neither of my parents can do dairy, so yesterday before I dumped butter and sour cream into the potatoes to mash them, I took some boiled ones out and they ate those. I did the same thing with the butternut squash before I dumped cream into it and blended it up into soup. This is sufficient for them because they eay pretty plain. It was no extra work and certainly no extra expense.

 

When I go to someone else's house, I tell them not to worry about me (gluten free due to celiac). I really, truly don't want anyone to have to do anything extra or out of the ordinary. I eat before I go or bring something I can eat to contribute to the meal, after consulting with the hostess of course. I have some very sweet friends that insist on accomodating my gluten free diet, and I will have to say it makes me feel pretty loved. :)

 

However, in the other thread about the girl and the grandma, I feel that is a different scenario. I think a grandma should make an extra effort as long as she is already cooking.

Edited by Hikin' Mama
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As the host, I would coordinate with the allergic guest to make sure he had a (nice, festive!) meal's worth of choices. He would be welcome to bring his own plate. I would not ask the other guests to prepare expensive swaps. I don't think the entire meal needs to be safe, absent airborne issues. (If my son were allergic to a food, that would be a total waste. He ate rolls, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie yesterday.) I would be nervous to cook for someone with a LTFA because my kitchen is contaminated with just about every food. If you've got a yellow squash issue, you'd be safe with me.

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Obligated is wayyyyy too strong of a word. If it is someone I don't know or some random event we eat before or after and eat anything that is obviously and easily safe, if there is anything- like plain chips or fruit and veggie platters for ex. If it is a potluck I bring enough food for my own and I generally don't touch anything else, although I'll let the kids have drinks or other stuff that is obviously safe for them. If it is with close family I think it is certainly nice to at least have something for the kids, especially if they are ordering for other kids I think it is not too much to order something for my kids as well. My mom has always went out of her way to try and make anything she can, my mil has been a slow adopter but generally has a fair amount of stuff these days, even if is rather plain stuff the kids enjoy it well enough and I don't have to worry about cross contamination or missing ingredients. Personally, my own diet is so restricted and changing I hardly ever eat other people's food, besides the fact that my tastes are so very, very different. I've started making entire holiday meals at home before we go and taking my stuff for me and to share.

 

eta

When I am the host I will go out of my way to cook things that are safe for others, I love cooking for people, it gives me joy. I was cooking for someone the other day for bg issues- who responds entirely different then I do- I was happy to have them tell me what works for them so I make sure they can eat it and enjoy it. My friends and I used to host dinner parties, which was quite interesting because the diets were so varied, I liked the challenge- we had gluten, dairy, soy, grain, legume, nut, preservative, color, sugar, starch free with a traditional food focus.

 

eta- 2;

I try to avoid talking about food with people and generally prefer to do non-food events. I live in an area that is more southern comfort food focused so it is a happy surprise to find people with similar tastes, preferences and dietary needs.

Edited by soror
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I hate cooking and pretty much everyone knows it. I'd say, "Let's order out," and solve the food issues that way. If the person can't eat food from restaurants, I'd say, "pot luck!" Everybody brings whatever they can eat. Done.

 

But it's a well-established fact about me that I don't cook and my friends are aware of it. If I'm going to hang out with friends, we go out somewhere. I don't entertain at home much.

 

Also, I don't like it when people try to bend over backwards to please me (I'm a picky eater, which is why I don't cook much.) Just make what you're going to make and I'll deal with it. If I was actually allergic and not just picky, then I'd bring something for myself.

 

I absolutely feel that dinners are not about the food. They're about the company. The food isn't important to me. I have friends and family for whom the food is EVERYTHING. I don't get it. Just make something simple so we can get the eating out of the way and hang out with each other. I have friends where every time we go to their house (about twice a month), they make elaborate dinners. I keep saying, "Can we just boil a couple of pounds of noddles and pop open a jar of Ragu?" But nope. They're chopping and dicing and sauteing and dinner is always (always) 2 hours late. I'd rather we eat the spaghetti and then have time/energy to play a game in the evening.

 

But it's their house and it's their thing. I make sure to eat something ahead of time so I'm not starving for the 2 hour late dinner.

Edited by Garga

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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.  

 

that's good.  an 18yo can usually defend themselves.

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With close family (such as Thanksgiving feasts), I think family should make an effort to accommodate each other out of love.  I have plenty of experience with kids being gf at the holidays.  My family accommodates and makes most dishes that are gf.  I appreciate it so much.  Dh's family does not or even seem to register that three of my four kids cannot eat gluten.  One becomes violently ill after eating gluten.  It's not just a preference.  

 

When going to a potluck with random people or casual acquaintances or a large group, I assume nothing will be brought that is gf and I bring something my kids can eat.  There are usually things that are gf naturally (vegetables, salad, fruit) so they also eat those.  I have no expectations that anyone other than close family should accommodate my kids gf status, though I have found several friends who want to do so, and I do appreciate the kindness.

 

ETA:  There are always things that my kids cannot eat at Thanksgiving feasts at other people's houses.  My SIL's parents come to her house, and we all celebrate together, and I do not expect them to understand about gluten or bring gf things.  There was a pie and a cake yesterday that my kids could not eat, but it was not a problem.  I brought three pies and someone else made gf cookies.  Really, we had plenty of dessert.   :)

Edited by texasmama
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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."

:iagree:  But not required for the host to accommodate.  My children and I have had allergy and intolerance (and vegetarian lol) issues over the years.  I bring food we can eat no matter what.  I don't ask people to accommodate our issues.  First of all, I wouldn't trust ANYone to know how to properly handle allergy protocol.  I had very intelligent healthcare workers even insist things like Reese's don't count with peanut issues and stuffing isn't gluten because she didn't add flour.  

 

One year when one of my kids had a birthday at a family member's house by HER request I did insist on no dairy being served as she was very little and didn't understand what she could eat, would eat food like Cheetos off the floor, and had a really really severe reaction.  I was promised yes and we showed up to a house full of dairy.  Like, cheese dips left out next to our cheese-free alternatives with dairy filled crackers and cheetos and things set at kid-height and where cross contamination was inevitable. I would have had it elsewhere (like I wanted) if they would have been honest with me. So if you say you'll do something, I think it's respectful to follow through.  And yes, we went home with a kid with horrific puking, diarrhea, and a bleeding rash on her birthday despite watching her like a hawk the best we could with family passing her around. 

 

Personally, I always work around guest allergies (except cat, not getting rid of those) to the best of my ability.  But I do warn them that I will do my *best* but I'm not perfect, so they're welcome to come watch or help me cook if it's an issue.  I've had people not tell me their allergies until afterward.  Don't do that.  Tell me.  Seriously.  It's no big deal and it makes me feel terrible if you sat through something that causes you pain.

Edited by mommymilkies
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While I don't think a host must work around a food allergy/intolerance, said host should realize that someone who doesn't feel welcome will likely come less and less to their house while someone they work to make feel welcome might feel otherwise. This could backfire, however, if the host works really hard to feed the guest and then finds out they did something wrong. Then both parties may feel wronged. :-(

Emily

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I won't accommodate that.  And this is not because I'm mean or that I don't care.  The problem is that I cannot be certain that I have not contaminated the food with the allergy causing ingredient.  I'd have to thoroughly sanitize all of my equipment. I'd have to read every label of every item I'm using to be sure it doesn't have the ingredient.  I really just can't do that.  I suppose what I could do is buy something packaged that is already made that states it is allergy free.  I'd be willing to do that.

 

 

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I dunno, this is *family* we're talking about, right?  I guess I see it as part of my duty as playing hostess to be accommodating to some degree.  That doesn't mean I'll make it all or even mostly allergen-free, but I try to ask what sorts of things the person likes.  Now, this is if I HAVE the information. If I forget to ask and they forget to mention, well, there ya go.  lol

 

We host people so rarely that when we do, I really want people to enjoy themselves and not have to worry about the food.  Bringing stuff yourself must get OLD, so I feel for that.  I guess there is some middle ground for just about every situation and that's what I go for.  No guilt, just all of us doing our best.

 

Now, if I 'm another GUEST, I will feel much less responsibility for my one or two dishes to fit someone else's dietary needs, but it really depends on the ingredient(s) in question.  

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I have a non life threatening (though very uncomfortable) reaction to the things I am allergic to. I bring things I can eat and do not expect others to make special meals for me. I appreciate it when they do! I also appreciate it when people are honest about what they put in the food if you ask and not take offence about you asking. If they act weird about it, or I dont trust their answer, I refrain from eating it.

 

We have the life threatening food allergies in our house too. I hosted this year and fortunately everyone did respect my request (demand) that no items contained the allergens that are life threatening. Now my son cannot eat things "manufactured with" but doesnt react to being in the room with other people who eat this. Only if it contains the item. So in that case, yes I expect people to not bring something that actually contains the allergen, but I dont expect them to go as far to not bring things "manufactured with".

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<snip>

 

But now there's a big list of foods I can't have and I've been through anaphylactic reactions. Too difficult, so I am happy to bring my own. I had a hard time visiting someone because she constantly was searching the cupboards and asking for recipes to make for me. Just couldn't get the message through -- I'm happiest to just bring my own. If you must, make me a bowl of plain rice and I'll eat that. No, it had to be more. I kept hearing how hard it is to have someone over and not to be able to cook for them.

 

<snip>

 

I don't understand this line of thinking at all.

 

The easiest thing in the world is to have someone come over and not cook for them.  Right?  Not cooking is easier than cooking, no matter what.

 

I think if a person really feels that way, they have some sort of baggage or insecurity that it's time to get rid of.   I get that we are taught to be hospitable and offer food and drink to guests.  When I was a kid I knew only one person with a food allergy - my cousin who could not eat chocolate. We envied her her white bunny at Easter.  I don't know exactly what changed, but something did and people need to change their attitudes about what constitutes good hospitality.  It's not feeding someone at all costs.  It's making people feel comfortable.  So if someone is more comfortable bringing their own food, they need to be allowed to do it without comment or nasty looks from other guests.   I'm happy to do my best to accommodate, but if a guest of mine wants to bring her own food, by all means, bring it on.   To say "no, it's too hard to have you here if I can't cook for you" doesn't do much to keep people feeling comfortable. 

 

Edited by marbel
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I think it's kind to try to work around allergies and other food issues, but the host and guests should not be obligated to serve only foods the person(s) affected can eat. I'm not even sure how a host could guarantee that all foods were safe.

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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.

 

Yup, just don't look at me like I'm crazy for being really interested in the ingredients list on that box of crackers.

 

I really appreciate effort of trying to make something for DS, but I don't expect it, and please don't be insulted if I say, "oh, sorry, yeah, he's not gluten-free, he's dairy-free, he still can't have that thing, but thank you so much for thinking of him!" (you would not believe how many people think food allergies mean he can't have gluten so they buy something gluten free and don't realize that doesn't also mean dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free).

 

I assume people don't know how to deal with it, and we work around it.

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It depends on the person, the allergy, the setting. 

 

For a time my brother and his wife were trying on different diets. For awhile they were all strictly gluten free - except on Thursday afternoons. ??? For them I wouldn't bring something special, or worry about cross contamination. My mom would go through the trouble of getting gluten free things for them. But I don't think I would have been so helpful. 

 

For our long time friend who was deathly allergic to chocolate. Before she would come and stay we would look through the kitchen for anything with chocolate and put it away in the garage and then spend several hours cleaning the kitchen. Then spend a week totally chocolate free so that we know that all the dishes and everything had been washed through at least once. We would also do a somewhat deep clean of all parts of the house that might have had food. 

 

 

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My son does have the serious type allergy. I don't expect (or want) people to try to make something safe for him. People with anaphylaxis need to be careful, and my son isn't safe eating something prepared in a kitchen with his allergens. So I bring food that is safe for him to eat.

 

Most people I know with non-ana allergies to foods just eat whatever doesn't contain their allergen and avoid whatever does. So that is how I voted on your poll for both sections.

 

If I had a relative with a non life threatening allergy to, say, dairy, I think I would try to bring something safe for him or her to eat just because it's kind and not a big deal. Our culture and holidays are very food oriented. To be honest, holidays can be sort of hard from that perspective for food allergy folks. If the person you have in mind has an allergy, and especially two, to a really common ingredient there may be nothing anyone brings that is safe to eat. There are so many recipes that are allergy friendly with a simple google search.

 

That said, if I had an allergy, I would not expect people to keep that in mind while cooking.

 

Edited by sbgrace

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There are so many variables it is really hard to have a blanket statement.  My youngest really does need a nut free environment, both peanuts (not a true nut) and tree nuts.  If someone brings a dish with nuts in it we leave.  His allergy is that serious.  However, he also has to avoid pit fruits.  If someone wants to bring peach pie, go for it, he just won't eat it.  Allergies have to be dealt with on a basis of severity and what is keeping people safe enough to be comfortable with being present.  As a host I try to accommodate allergies if I can.  As a guest I appreciate questions and am happy to bring food

 

My niece and nephew have a long list of allergies and we always try to make sure there are foods they can have.  One year for Thanksgiving my mom made sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin to make nephew feel more included.  We ate our pumpkin pie when we got home.  However, on the flip side, my mom's side of the family who used to do a big Christmas thing every year refused to give up my aunt's traditional nut cookies so that DS could attend.  I missed the last few Christmases of my grandmother's life because their traditional nut cookies were more important than my family being able to attend safely.  My DS also had to miss Grandma's funeral dinner because of nuts, and almost the service itself, because someone thought that it was a wonderful idea to serve cookies during the service.  He was only 6 at the time but he still remembered it and when my other grandmother died recently, he was in tears thinking he may need to miss her service and dinner.  He was, however, able to attend thanks to caring people and he was so appreciative.

 

Yesterday for Thanksgiving my MIL accommodated my DS allergies, her special super low carb diet, and two people with diabetes.  She did pretty well.  There were dishes that my DH couldn't have because he get stomach problems from Stevia and other sugar substitutes, but he was fine with eating what he could have.  There were lots of desserts, but everyone made sure to leave the nuts at home. However, even though people do make things without nuts I don't trust that there is no cross-contamination so we are still careful.  For DS there are few foods he will eat anyway so I make sure that those foods are safe for him. Yesterday he only ate rolls, bread,and key lime pie. Everyone felt included and had a wonderful time.

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It would be thoughtful and kind for the host/others bringing food to accommodate the person with an allergy, but they are not obligated to do so.

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Super-serious, life-threatening allergies that can be set off my minimal exposure, such as some have to peanuts, are an exception in my mind--if the person hosting really wants the allergic person to be at the gathering, they should be responsible for keeping things nut-free. The person with the allergy must use their discretion to avoid situations where the host/other participants will not accommodate them.

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I didn't answer the poll because none of the choices really fit what I think, which is both parties should strive to meet more than halfway.. I think that the person with the food issues should plan to bring their own food AND I think the host family should do anything they can reasonably do to accommodate. That's part of being hospitable. I don't think it is reasonable for a host to prepare gluten free bakery items if there is a gluten issue for instance, but providing a menu of plain no-gluten foods (meat, veges, etc.) is not a big deal. Don't make lasagna; serve roast chicken and veges. That kind of thing. Don't serve casseroles; serve separate simply cooked foods. Not a biggie. OTOH, if the host wants to research GF or wants to purchase something GF specially for the person with issues, that is a gracious gesture. But if it produces anxiety for the hostess, no need to go that far.

 

ETA: grammar

Edited by Laurie4b
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I think it depends on the situation. If we are going to a friends house I would never expect them to accommodate our families crazy needs. I do call and see what they are making so I can bring some safe things that fit the overall theme. I don't want to bring mashed potatoes if we are having tacos. If my friend had a problem with me bringing things I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be my friend for very long.

 

If we are going to immediate family, grandma, brother etc, I would expect them to at least try to have some things that we can eat. My mother, who's not really a cook, won't even try, but like I said she doesn't cook, so all family meals are done at my house. My MIL goes way overboard trying to accommodate my son. Like she will make two special meals, every day. He loves going to grandmas and eats like a king. They live 3000 miles away, so when we go it's for at least a week.

 

A lot of times friends will call and ask what they can make. I always tell them not to worry about it. Our requirements are crazy and I would never expect anyone outside of immediate family to even try.

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I tend to agree with a lot of the others who try and make sure there are enough things for the allergic person to eat that they will not feel hungry.  Often, when it's potluck, the person will bring some sort of filling dish, and I will make sure that there are one or two other possibilities.  And agree with the person who said plates of fruit and veg can be very useful.

 

Among the two groups I eat with a lot, one has several with lactose intolerance, so there is usually going to be an attempt to use lactose free milk and such (that's family so it tends to be traditional holiday meals.)  The other group has a few people on GF diets (not celiac and TBH I am a bit skeptical of the reasoning for one of them) but that means there are usually at least two GF things, and I often bring a GF dessert because its one I am good at and like and it makes things simple.  There is also one lady who has many food allergies, and she tends to bring a lot of her own things.

 

I find though that once the group gets very large, it becomes much more difficult to manage intolerances and allergies.

 

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I didn't answer the poll as my answer depends on so many different things: how severe the allergy is, the relationship to the guest, the number of guests, etc. Again, I am assuming the allergy is not life-threatening/very severe as that obviously would change everything...

 

Let's say there are only eight people in total and a close family member (let's say a son-in-law) is allergic to gluten (or whatever). I would probably try to have the majority of foods done in a way so he can eat it. But there may be some dishes that are not okay for him, for example because they are traditional to the holiday or to our family.

 

On the other hand if 20 people are invited to a party and my niece's new boyfriend has an allergy I would be less likely to worry about it. I would make sure there is something he can eat (e.g. main dish, side, dessert) but think it is too much to expect that everything is made with the allergy in mind, especially as there are likely to be several different allergies when there are so many people.

 

So it would really depend: from offering some food to most dishes. I would not expect them to bring their own food (other than a dish for sharing like everyone else) unless their allergy was so specific that it can not be reasonably catered for (e.g. if someone is allergic to gluten, egg, dairy, nuts it does get difficult to cook).

Edited by Twolittleboys
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No answer fits, but a couple of suggestions...

 

If it's a potluck where people are informally checking in with the host so that they don't all bring the same thing, please let people with food allergies have the first go round. It's demoralizing to know that all the party-friendly foods you could have made "safe" are already coming with someone else, and there aren't enough people coming to justify duplicates.

 

If the event is a long one, or you have several meals together because of a family event, and you don't really want to coordinate food, can't prepare special stuff, etc. let the food allergic person off the hook for bringing a dish(es) to pass if they are already making sure they have their own food to eat (exceptions would be if the food allergy family is a huge part of the party). It can be difficult to pack yourself an entire meal or set of meals and then also prepare stuff to share--not everything they can eat travels well. It's much easier to make one dish to pass than an entire meal and get it there all in once piece, warm it, etc. I try to eat before these sorts of things, but when they last for 5-6 hours, a whole day, or a weekend (family stuff), it's very trying to be that person upsetting the whole balance. It's also hard if you don't truly have kitchen privileges at the event because of cross-contamination, someone's poor planning, rude comments, etc. If you've been driving (sometimes all day), or flying to a family get together, you've had to pack safe food for the trip that requires no heating, no fuss, etc. to just get to the event, and then you can't really use the kitchen, it just gets to be a bit much. I realize not every party falls into this category, but your party might fall close to a time when the food allergic person has already flexed to the max and eaten enough bananas to turn themselves into a monkey.

 

Mostly, just be kind and flexible. Communicate. If someone is being pushy about their food issues, most likely, the person with the food issues is grieving because it's a recent thing to be dealing with this or they've had a recent bad experience. I had a great Thanksgiving with in-laws yesterday, but much of the food didn't work even though 1/4 of the guest list had the same food issue and would have coordinated. The host is rather controlling and can't multi-task, so the food that was safe was undercooked (thankfully not the meat), the gravy was not actually safe, etc. It was okay, but if we were staying the weekend, I would have had to sneak food (again, the host is controlling and makes passive-aggressive comments when I bring my own stuff). If I can't bring a self-contained, no-cooking required spread for 1, I've had to eat snack food for DAYS there. Even if I can bring my own food, I have to bring dishes to cook in and such, not so much for cross-contamination, but because the host doesn't have enough cooking stuff for me when she has guests, and she doesn't plan well either. 

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If I am the host and I know that people are coming over and have food limitations/allergies/ etc then I always make sure there is plenty they can eat.  If you come to my house for a meal, you will be fed well and that is all there is to it. I know how to cook to avoid cross contamination etc and will bend over backwards to accommodate.  Cooking for you is part of how I show my love for you, so it is no trouble to make sure you can eat what I make. If your food allergies etc are of the level that I really can't prepare it for you, then of course, you are completely welcome to bring food that you can eat. I will help in any way to make that comfortable and convenient for you.

 

Now, will it be everything on the menu? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on what the issue is etc. 

 

At my family thanksgiving yesterday it was a potluck with my sister's family and my family providing the bulk of the meal.  We also have family that is gluten intolerant and a child and adult who is allergic to nuts. My family is vegetarian.  We also have a family member going through chemo and another who has a very serious health issue that requires a low sodium diet. So, as a vegetarian I made my own entree and gravy (I totally kicked ass this year on that front, btw). I made sure to make one gluten free dessert and my pies, which did have gluten, were nut free. I didn't add salt to the things I made that the low sodium person might eat (she is only 2, so that was easy, lol) There was plenty for everyone. 

 

Honestly, I don't think it is that big a deal. To me, it is an extension of good manners and loving the people in my life. It is a joy for me to cook for people, it is a joy for me when I can make someone something they like and that they can eat.   And I am under the impression that it is bad manners to invite someone over for a meal and then not feed them. It is even worse manners to kill a guest.

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As a host, I always ask if there are any foods they would like for me to avoid. And I'm happy to oblige. If multiple families are invited and I'm hosting, I would not ask my other guests to accommodate my food allergy guest, but I'd make sure that's I provided enough food that the allergy guest will have enough to eat and will not feel awkward.

 

I do have some friends who have real true allergies and aren't "just" avoiding certain foods. They bring their own so I cook what I want to eat and don't worry about them. 🙂

 

If I'm the guest, and my host has food allergies, I try to bring items they can enjoy too without breaking their diet. But I have never been specifically asked to avoid bringing a certain item. If asked, I would accommodate though.

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It would depend on the situation for me. If we invited a couple over for dinner, I would accommodate any food allergies or intolerance, at least in most of what I offered. If we were having a large gathering and that person were coming, I would probably try to make sure at least something offered was okay for them, but I wouldn't specifically make everything "safe" nor would I ask others bringing food to the gathering to bring food without that ingredient. 

 

DD has several food restrictions, including lactose and wheat. None of them are serious and most she can tolerate small amounts (eg...milk in mashed potatoes is fine, ice cream or a glass of milk is not). I assume it will be up to me to provide her with food she can have. I don't expect hosts or their guests to accommodate her dietary needs. If I don't know what will be served or if I know and she can't have it, I bring something for her. We bring our own gluten free cupcake when she gets invited to a birthday party.

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Several of us, myself included, have a long list of food intolerances and mild allergies. I never expect that a host will prepare acceptable food, but I do talk with the host ahead of time to find out what will be served so that I can bring appropriate substitutions, particularly for my young child (I happily go without dessert, but I make certain that I bring a dessert for my boy). I assure all hosts that I require no special treatment, but I also warn them that I will need to check ingredients on anything they think is acceptable to serve to my kiddo.

 

That said, everyone I know tries to be so accommodating. Ok, not everyone. My brother and his wife think our issues are ridiculous and seem to enjoy eating things in front of my son that he can't eat (pizza) without warning me ahead so that I can make a substitute. We don't see them much anymore, for many reasons, so this isn't a huge issue now, thankfully. But the majority of our friends are constantly seeking to accommodate and learn new ways of cooking, etc. It's so kind. Of course, I do the same. When my vegan relatives come to visit, I make sure that our meal has plenty of vegan food, even though our diet is most accurately described as paleo due to our intolerances. I can't imagine expected my in laws to bring all their food!

 

One thing I do occasionally struggle with from certain people, including my brother, is the attitude that our dietary restrictions are optional or a preference. My brother and his wife always express shock that we are declining the pizza or the green beans when they are served. It's comical to me that after four years of this, they still think I'm kidding.

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So tell me, how does one accommodate a real allergy?  I'm not talking intolerance.  That's probably doable. 

 

It strikes me that people don't understand real allergies.  They are either not talking about real allergies (only intolerances) or they don't realize the lengths they must go to in order to provide, with absolute certainty, allergy free foods.

 

My issue with attempting to accommodate a real allergy is that I might not get it right.  I do not want to kill someone or make them suffer.  If I were the one with the allergy or it was my child, I wouldn't trust just anyone either. 

 

 

 

 

 

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So tell me, how does one accommodate a real allergy?  I'm not talking intolerance.  That's probably doable. 

 

It strikes me that people don't understand real allergies.  They are either not talking about real allergies (only intolerances) or they don't realize the lengths they must go to in order to provide, with absolute certainty, allergy free foods.

 

My issue with attempting to accommodate a real allergy is that I might not get it right.  I do not want to kill someone or make them suffer.  If I were the one with the allergy or it was my child, I wouldn't trust just anyone either. 

 

For me, this comes down to communication more than anything. My best friend's daughter has a fairly serious tree nut allergy. If I was making dinner for their family, I would check in with my friend on everything and be sure we were avoiding what we needed to. Another friend's daughter has celiac and I would do the same. When we get together, we just each provide our own food. It's just easier and safer that way. But by being open about it and acknowledging the issue, we can work together to make sure the one with an allergy is kept safe. I would never just go off of "xyz allergy" and say "oh, okay, I'll accommodate that" without further communication to be sure we were doing things right.

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I can usually make several things that accommodate the allergy person.    I have a list of 10 ish recipes that are gluten free and just as many that are dairy free and I make those when friends with allergies are coming over.  It isn't all that hard to do. 

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So tell me, how does one accommodate a real allergy?  I'm not talking intolerance.  That's probably doable. 

 

It strikes me that people don't understand real allergies.  They are either not talking about real allergies (only intolerances) or they don't realize the lengths they must go to in order to provide, with absolute certainty, allergy free foods.

 

My issue with attempting to accommodate a real allergy is that I might not get it right.  I do not want to kill someone or make them suffer.  If I were the one with the allergy or it was my child, I wouldn't trust just anyone either. 

 

I don't trust many people with my DS because of the severity of his allergy.  I ask that foods not contain nuts so that he can be present.  If someone brings a peanut butter pie we have to leave.  That is the most important thing for his safety.  We always go in with the assumption that he likely can't eat the foods that are prepared by others due to cross contamination, unless it is from a trusted source.  So in our case accommodating would mean not having obvious sources of peantus/tree nuts, and let us know of what foods may be cross-contaminated so he can avoid them.

 

My MIL keep peanut/tree nut free cooking supplies and a cutting board at her house to make food from DS.  My mom sanitizes and makes a great effort to keep DS safe.  Most foods that he eats are things that I bring, or things that are pre-packaged and specialty nut fee foods.  We also keep epipens on hand at all times just in case.

 

As much as I would love to keep DS in a bubble to keep him perfectly safe at all times, that wouldn't be fair to him or teach him the life skills he needs to navigate as he gets older.

 

ETA: All allergies, intolerances, and special diets are different, so asking the parent, family member, of whoever what would help them is the best way to find out how to accommodate and can look very different for people even with similar issues.

Edited by loowit
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This is a hard one for me.  As someone with a food allergy, I don't think it's fair to expect relatives to alter their tried and true holiday recipes because of me. It isn't exactly easy to get the same taste from a gluten free version, though it can be done.   It has taken me a long time to figure it out.  At the same time, if I had a guest who I knew had an allergy, I would probably contact them to see what we could do.  I certainly wouldn't want any of my guests to be left out so I would at least try but that's me, and I'm more sensitive now to allergies (although in the past I've accommodated plenty of my kid's friend's different food requirements).     Now my good friends, they make sure there is food I can eat, and I just love them for that.  I have friends who, if I went to any of their houses for a get together, there would always be something: gluten free pizza, gluten free cookies--just for me!  One friend threw a shower and made sure I could eat most of the food. I don't expect everyone to do that for me but the ones closest to me do because they know how it has been for me and they care.   The people who don't know me that well, I certainly wouldn't have any expectations. 

 

 

Edited by HeWillSoar

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So tell me, how does one accommodate a real allergy?  I'm not talking intolerance.  That's probably doable. 

 

It strikes me that people don't understand real allergies.  They are either not talking about real allergies (only intolerances) or they don't realize the lengths they must go to in order to provide, with absolute certainty, allergy free foods.

 

My issue with attempting to accommodate a real allergy is that I might not get it right.  I do not want to kill someone or make them suffer.  If I were the one with the allergy or it was my child, I wouldn't trust just anyone either. 

Cook with simple ingredients(whole foods- or pre-packaged foods that are clearly marked and ok'd) that are safe, use non-porous surfaces for food prep and cooking(extra wash before use with fresh clean rags and dishtowels), be fastidious with hand-washing and not using any pre-opened containers of anything that might have cross-contamination.

Edited by soror

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So tell me, how does one accommodate a real allergy? I'm not talking intolerance. That's probably doable.

 

It strikes me that people don't understand real allergies. They are either not talking about real allergies (only intolerances) or they don't realize the lengths they must go to in order to provide, with absolute certainty, allergy free foods.

 

My issue with attempting to accommodate a real allergy is that I might not get it right. I do not want to kill someone or make them suffer. If I were the one with the allergy or it was my child, I wouldn't trust just anyone either.

Cooking allergen free is really not hard, but it just takes getting used to. So, as an allergy mom, I have a pretty good idea of what questions to ask and what level of confidence I need to have in the answers. But, me asking those questions does not equate to me having expectations that the host should be doing something different -- I just need to know. So, if you make an attempt to omit an ingredient for the sake of someone's allergy, you'll probably do okay.

 

Someone who is worried about one crumb of cross contamination should not be putting that on the host/cook. But even for true allergies, a lot of times I just need to know what's in it, but it's not about expecting anything.

 

I would say just do what you're comfortable with, be ok with ingredient questions, and let the allergic person or parent negotiate the food. No guilt or bad feelings should be had on either side of the issue.

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If someone with allergies was coming to my house I would do all I could to accommodate them. But there is nothing more awkward than someone with no knowledge having tried to make a safe food and likely failed. I am knowledgeable so I know what to do. A friend came over once and talked about gluten free wheat. Well, he meant GMO free wheat. This is not someone I can trust to make food for my kids.

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I don't believe it is the hosts OBLIGATION, but it is a nice gesture to provide some alternatives without the allergen. I'll tell how we handle bother being a host to a family with severe allergies and how we are guests with intolerances.

First, our nephew has severe, life threatening allergies. To multiple things. Nuts, wheat, dairy, pitted fruit, and a host of other random things. I make sure that first, my children know his allergies are very serious, and that they must not touch him after they've eaten until they have washed both their hands and face. I provide cooking utensils that are just for his food, and allow his parents full range of my kitchen. They are very good about packing his food, but I always attempt to make part of our meals safe for him. That means I alter the menu entirely or provide a similar food item without his allergens. So if I was making mashed potatoes, I would make one batch with cream and butter and another with olive oil and soy creamer/butter. When we have dessert, it's usually coupled with soy ice cream or Popsicles for him. Most of the time, my kids eat the choice he picks, to make it easier for him. I absolutely have no problem doing this, and in fact I usually feel I haven't accommodated enough, even though his parents (and our nephew!) are wonderful, and do not expect any accommodations what so ever.

 

We do not have any true allergies. However, for behavioral reasons, we avoid food dyes like the plague. I bring a safe dessert for my kids, as that is usually harder to find without any dyes. For thanksgiving, we went to a friends house. I offered to make the sweet potato casserole (and dessert) so that I could use the safe marshmallows for dd. (ironically normal marshmallows have blue dye in them😕). I have no issues with providing a safe alternative for my own child. I do not expect anyone to accommodate for her. It is not a true allergy, and if she is exposed the worst that will happen is a few days of meltdowns. Which, while it sucks, we can deal with. I do ask a lot of time what the ingredients in a food are, or if it's ok for me to see the packaging. Now that we've been doing this for a few months, I generally know what mainstream foods are safe for her.

 

I don't think there is a hard and fast rule for this. I think, as a host, I will always try to make our guests feel comfortable. And as a guest, I will not expect that the host will go too much out of her way for us.

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As far as gluten, often people don't even know what it is so it's hard to trust that the food is safe, and it's in so many things you wouldn't think it would be in.  Who would think that barley malt would contain gluten (so my favorite chocolates are a no-no), or that you couldn't eat licorice?  Or certain salad dressings or BBQ sauce?  I think it would be best just to talk to the person you are inviting.

Edited by HeWillSoar
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If someone with allergies was coming to my house I would do all I could to accommodate them. But there is nothing more awkward than someone with no knowledge having tried to make a safe food and likely failed. I am knowledgeable so I know what to do. A friend came over once and talked about gluten free wheat. Well, he meant GMO free wheat. This is not someone I can trust to make food for my kids.

Yes to this. With our little nephew, I make sure I run everything by his parents. Ingredients, spices, seasonings, methods of keeping contaminated food away from his food, ect.

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I would probably try to have a conversation with the person beforehand (or the parent if that applies) about how glad we are that they are joining us for dinner, what he or she plans to bring, what I'm cooking that is safe for this person to eat, and if there's some specific way I could be helpful (make one dish or something).

 

So, I don't think the host should have to cater exclusively to this person's needs, but I do think there should be some flexibility and communication before the event to make it has enjoyable as possible for everyone.

 

FWIW, we don't have any food allergies.

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So tell me, how does one accommodate a real allergy? I'm not talking intolerance. That's probably doable.

 

It strikes me that people don't understand real allergies. They are either not talking about real allergies (only intolerances) or they don't realize the lengths they must go to in order to provide, with absolute certainty, allergy free foods.

 

My issue with attempting to accommodate a real allergy is that I might not get it right. I do not want to kill someone or make them suffer. If I were the one with the allergy or it was my child, I wouldn't trust just anyone either.

I have allergies (anaphylaxis), allergies (intestinal inflammation, stomach cramps, destruction of my mucosal lining in my gut, latent immune response with hives and such), and intolerances (delayed minor symptoms from even mild exposure).

 

I only tell people the anaphylaxis allergies because I don't usually need to go to the ER if the others are triggered. It hurts and causes me weeks of issues but I'm not dead. And unfortunately my anaphylaxis allergies aren't nut based, so nobody thinks to accomodate them on their own. I do NOT expect my host to deal with anything but the most basic safety - don't steam or fry or cook with the item in a way that the protein could end up suspended in the air or in my food.

 

The bloody, trashed intestines and ulcerating foods are weird and common - I just check all ingredients. I don't usually mention them because some cross contact won't kill me. It just makes me sick until my body has purged the substance and my immune system has stopped its reaction.

 

The intolerances I could care less about. I try to avoid as many as I can but I can barely feed *myself* if I try to abide that list. I keep it private so I don't sound insane and just try to not load up on so many of them in a single meal that they trigger a more severe reaction.

 

I manage myself - that means informing my host that epipens aren't cute and this is how we avoid me needing to use them. I keep super simple, just a basic list of items I cannot have touch me or things I can't ingest, not so much to let them cook for me but to brainstorm any accidental exposure they might not be thinking of, like particular hand washes. I decide, based on what they're cooking, if the veggie or meat is safe. If not I drink a bunch to water and chat and call it good or bring my own food. If they give me lip about it I explain in exhaustive detail the precise reasons why I bring it and what inappropriate substances will do to me. And then they're usually super grateful I didn't try to be a pill and ask them to accomodate what is difficult and dangerous for most people to try and juggle.

Edited by Arctic Mama
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I try. I really, truly, honestly try, but I have messed up, so if this allergy is extra sensitive it would be safer for the person to control their own food. I have accidentally given a Jewish friend prepared pie crust that contained lard. I have purchased new sugar to make the gf thing without cross-contamination only to be told that iodized salt is a problem. I've prepared the allergen-free dish and been hit with an add-on. Susie won't eat it because she doesn't like mushrooms, tomatoes, whatever. I've made the Gf, DF, vegan thing and the vegan didn't show for the event or let me know she wouldn't be there. I've seen a selection laid out for the allergy person only to have them bemoan a missing food category. It can be stressful.

 

I like to cook. I love to feed my friends. I enjoy trying new recipes. I can totally understand how eliminating corn or dairy would be overwhelming for people who don't think of food as a hobby. So, my take is that it's nice if people make the effort, but it is too much to EXPECT the average, unskilled cook to put in the time, effort, and interest required to get it right. If feelings are hurt when people don't do this, I really think you need to adjust your expectations. The fear of getting it wrong can be paralyzing enough to dissuade a lot of people. Nobody wants to make anyone sick with their food!

Edited by KungFuPanda
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Celiac here...I have some street cred.

 

If my mom or good friend invited me over for dinner, then yes, an attempt should be made (or else they may as well invite me over to watch them eat).  BUT, the entire meal wouldn't have to be GF.  I'm cool with some meat and veggies or soup & fruit.  

 

If it's a big gathering like Thanksgiving, then no.  It is nice when people make stuff, but it's not necessary.  I don't trust most people's GF cooking anyway.  What I do appreciate is that when I ask people about certain ingredients (ie. which brand of broth was used) that they don't get offended.  I don't expect them to cook GF but when something looks like it might be, I'd like to be able to eat it if I can.  

 

 

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I appreciate hostesses who want to show their love for me by working around my allergies, and when they ask, I tell them what I can and can't eat.  The thing is, the list is pretty long, and it's pretty easy for someone to miss an ingredient in a sauce or whatever.  So when someone has asked us over for dinner, and I know they have tried to work around my allergies, I appreciate it.  But I *also* eat a light meal before I go to their house.  :0)  That way, if something doesn't work out right, I'm not hunger-crabby.  

 

Most of the time we eat with other people, it is in groups (more than just 2 couples) so it's pretty invisible.  

 

I also do this when we go out to dinner in a place I'm not sure I can trust.  :0)

 

I do think it is kind of people to ask and to try, and I don't mean to take anything away from them for doing that.  People astound me with their hospitality, really.

 

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The host needs to make the effort to serve or request potluck dishes according to what guests can consume, unless she is telling them upfront that its otherwise...spaghetti dinner, chili tailgate, fish fry, traditional than ksgiving, weinie roast, clambake....for ex. In that case, the hostess should not be upset if guests bring food they can eat and decline to eat the offerings that dont work for their diets. Guests should not be picky and turn their noses up at things they dont prefer. They only decline what is not allowed in their diet due to health reasons. So, the steak lover tries the lobster, the choclate chip cookies dont have nuts if someone is walnut allergic etc. With children, one generally follows the same rules re:allergies, and the parents supply the alternate meal if there is nothing on the menu that a picky eater will consume. Most parties I have been to will have rolls/crackers and slices of ham and cheese plus crudites that the picky children eat for dinner instead of the main meal.

 

With a celebratory cake at a large gathering I like to have a chocolate option. All golden/vanilla will have a lot of decliners, but half choc/half vanilla is taken by nearly everyone.

 

At a potluck, I would appreciate it if the host would put out the item I brought. It is something that my picker eaters will eat, but at the last few events, the hostess kept the items and didnt serve them. We left early so we could go home and eat due to hot dogs not being an option for us.

 

Lastly, if the host is inviting us over at meal time for food, a meal needs to be provided. Many cannot eat cake in lieu of dinner for example, especially if that is all that will be served in a five hour time frame. Inform the guests in advance so they can make plans if that is all you are offering.

Edited by Heigh Ho

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We do not host dinners at our house anymore due to dh's schedule. I am allergic to wheat, not anaphylactic yet but take benadryl due to rash amd itching, and I do not trust anyone else's cooking. So I take my own food and might eat raw veggies or fruit . Maybe. I have seen cooks slice celery with the same knife they cut bread with and not wash between nor clean the cutting board.

 

I do not expect anyone to cook for me and while I would be happy to try for someone with a mild allergy, i would not be willing to risk it for a severe allergy.

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I didn't vote, because I think it depends on the situation just a bit. In a "potluck" situation where the host does not provide most of the food, I think it is a bit much to ask guests to reliably know how to make food that fit in with food allergies. In that case maybe the person with the allergy needs to bring one or more items to the potluck that works for them.

 

In the case of a host preparing the food, I know I would try my best to provide a reasonable number of dishes the person with allergies could eat (for example, I have made both a gluten free and a regular dessert when I have had gluten free guests), perhaps consulting with the guest about what might work for them. Of course, if the person offers to bring their own food I wouldn't turn it down either.

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