family going to friends for holiday celebration

A Time to Focus on Family and Friends, not Food Allergies

A Time to Focus on Family and Friends, not Food Allergies


Happy Holidays Everyone!

I hope you are all set for the next couple of weeks, where hopefully you will get to spend some time with friends and family to celebrate the holiday season.  Seeing friends and family, exchanging gifts, giving hugs, feeling grateful is what this time is all about!  It’s a fun and memorable time, but for food allergy families it can be tough as well.  


As a food allergy parent, going to social gatherings can be a struggle and nerve-racking.  Constantly having to ask what is being served; figuring out what you can make in order for your child to have a safe option and to feel included; and having the same conversations with family members over and over who still don’t get it.  It can be exhausting and all you really want to do is enjoy the holidays.


I want you to try and make a change this year.  What I want you to do is take food out of the equation for a little while.  You may be thinking, How is that possible? We have to eat!  Of course everyone will eat, but instead of the focus being on food, make the focus on the people and the real meaning of the holidays, which, to me, is love. It is not food. 


I know we center just about everything around food these days, but let’s try to turn that around. Yes, you will still need a plan when you will be leaving the comfort of your own home and going to relatives to eat, but maybe this year try to plan some activities that are NOT centered around food.  Shift the focus.    


Instead of having a cookie swap, why not do a white elephant exchange.  Everyone brings a fun, silly gift to exchange with one another.   Instead of having dinner with friends, why not try making a new tradition.  One that is not centered around food.  It could be as simple as going for a walk with friends or cutting down your Christmas trees together.  Even gathering together to go caroling.  Doesn’t that sound so special?  Anything that brings you together that doesn’t have food at the center of it is your goal.  


You can still go to your family’s and friend’s homes to eat, but don’t focus on what your child can’t have or the people who don’t understand food allergies.  Focus on the ones that do understand and support you and your family. What the holidays are about is spending time with those we love and focusing on the good in others.

Here are ten non-food centered activities you can do around the holidays with family and friends. 


  • Drive around and see lights.  You can do this in your own neighborhood or go to a public place that is known for decorating for the holidays. 
  • Volunteering.  We delivered groceries to seniors who couldn’t get out of their homes. It will be a forever memory and one we will hopefully continue year after year. 
  • Wreath Decorating
  • Go to a performance
  • Have a game night
  • Go caroling
  • Holiday Movie Night
  • Holiday Craft Party
  • Create holiday cards for a nursing home
  • Ice skating or skiing


Choose one item from above, look at your calendar and plug it in.  Send out invites to your family and friends and get it in the books.  It will make you realize that fun can be had and food doesn’t even need to be a part of it.  It will teach your children that their food allergies can’t take the fun out of the holidays or any other time.  


It is time to be creative and think outside of the box.  These ideas above are so much more fun than sitting around a table eating anyway!  And I am a dietitian who loves creating meals, but I would much rather do something that will stick in our memories and even potentially help others.  This is what I feel everyone should be focusing on during this season, not just food allergy families.  It is time to make new traditions that will last a lifetime.  


I would love to know what non-food activities your family loves to do or wants to try and do around the holidays to make them merry and bright.  Feel free to reach out at!  I love to hear from my followers.  


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Elizabeth Pecoraro is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in pediatric nutrition and food allergies as well as adult wellness and habit change. She offers 1:1 counseling, meal planning services and she is currently creating an online course for parents of children with food allergies.  Her “Allergy-Friendly Cookbook” will be out February 2023 for pre-sale.  For more personalized information, click here and book a session with Elizabeth.


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