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Parties

Parties are an awesome way to spend time with friends and have a good time. Don’t let your food allergies get in the way of enjoying yourself. As long as you’re smart about the way you party, there is no reason that your allergies should hold you back!

Navigating high school and all of the social events that come along with it is difficult enough, but adding food allergies into the mix brings the stress to a whole new level. My name is Rachel McCain, I’m 17 years old, and a junior in high school. I’m allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and dairy. Personally, I love parties. Since I was little, I’ve been the kid that had to be dragged off the dance floor when it was time to go. I’m here to share some tips and tricks to help create a safe and fun party experience.

For Large Events

Parties like weddings, sweet sixteens, and bar/bat mitzvahs all have one thing in common: lots of guests! The key to a successful outing in a large setting is making contact with the host, manager, and bartender.

Party

The host is likely someone that you know.

Letting them know ahead of time about your needs as a food-allergic person can help them in accommodating you for the day/night of the event. If the host is using a large catering company, it is important to remember that they may not have all of the information about your food preparation needs. They may assure you that something is safe for you to eat, but if you have the slightest feeling that it may not be safe, trust your gut.

bartender

The bartender has a very busy job.

Even if you aren't old enough for alcohol, you may attend a wedding or other event where the same bartender is preparing even the non-alcoholic beverages. They are responsible for mixing lots of drinks and may not stop between preparing each one to thoroughly clean the shakers. It is important to advocate for yourself in this scenario by alerting them of your allergies. By making your needs known, you significantly lower the risk that your drink would be contaminated with any allergens that may have been used to make a previous drink. As the customer, you have every right to request that your drink be made with clean tools. Generally, I would suggest avoiding mixed drinks, but if you do decide that you want one, watch the bartender make it from start to finish. It’s also important to remember that you should never leave your drink unattended! (This goes for non-food allergic people as well) While you’re in the bathroom or out on the dance floor, someone could take a sip from your cup, and you may not notice. This cross contamination could put you in a very dangerous situation.

More Tips and Tricks for Parties

Snacks

Feeling unsure about whether or not there’ll be something safe for you to munch on? When in doubt, bring some snacks! I’ve never been to a venue that denied me entry because I had food once I showed them my Medic Alert bracelet. Know your rights!

Epinephrine!

Never, never, never head to a party without your auto-injector! When the music gets loud and everyone is busy having a good time, it is more difficult to alert someone that you are having an allergic reaction. Find a small bag that you can wear on your body so your auto-injector is always nearby.

Have a “Person”

Designate a friend to be your “person” at a party. Make sure that they know how to operate your auto-injector in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. You and your person should always know where your auto-injector is at all times. This may sound like a pain, but in the event of an emergency, you will be grateful for following this protocol.

Have Fun

Parties are an awesome way to spend time with friends and have a good time. Don’t let your food allergies get in the way of enjoying yourself. As long as you’re smart about the way you party, there is no reason that your allergies should hold you back!

glasses

Be Aware of Hidden Allergens

As we all know, the style of partying evolves as we get older. I’ve become increasingly aware of how much of adult socializing is built around alcohol. I’m not yet old enough to drink, but I have friends who are of age who have told me stories about the dangers of hidden allergens in drinks. Allergens like nuts, wheat, and dairy can often be hidden ingredients in alcoholic beverages. Gin can contain almonds, beer can contain wheat, and jello shots can contain butter. No drink is worth a trip to the emergency room. Alcohol can also intensify an allergic reaction that has already occurred. Having a sober allergic reaction is scary enough: imagine experiencing a reaction and feeling disoriented and out of control too. As a food-allergic person, it is important to always remain vigilant.

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