When a family member is diagnosed with food allergies, life at home becomes somewhat more challenging. By changing the way you shop, cook and clean, you can enjoy meals that are safe for everyone.
Turn your home into your “safe space” with these tips.
- Learn how to read food labels and make sure everyone in the family can, too. Keep our How to Read a Food Label fact sheet pinned up on your refrigerator or pantry door as well as our Common Symptoms of Anaphylaxis magnet.
- Separate safe and unsafe food. Assign specific shelves in the pantry and refrigerator and store all foods in sealed containers.
- Label either the problem foods or the safe ones—whichever is easier. Color-coded stickers can help here.
- Stock up on food essentials and have safe substitutes on hand.
- Have separate sets of utensils for handling safe and unsafe foods. Some families even use separate dishes (usually designated by different colors).
- All family members should wash their hands before and after eating to avoid the transfer of food allergens.
- Scrub down counters and tables after you prepare food and after you eat meals. To effectively remove food protein from surfaces, wash the surfaces with soap and water.
- Practice proper food preparation to avoid cross-contact. Thoroughly clean counters, cutting boards, knives, slicers, spoons, measuring cups, mixing bowls and other equipment between foods.
- Beware of airborne allergens during cooking or food preparation. Examples include boiling milk, frying fish or eggs, and using powdered milk or wheat flour. Family members with food allergies may need to keep a safe distance at these times. You might want to allow the air to clear for 30 minutes afterward before re-entering the room.
- Create allergen-free zones in your home. Consider restricting eating to the kitchen and dining room only.
- For young children, fixed seating arrangements at the table may be helpful. This will discourage younger siblings from sharing “tastes.”
- Assemble an emergency kit with your medications, epinephrine auto-injector and Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan. You might want to make two kits—one that stays in the house in a convenient, safe place that everyone knows, and one that travels with you.