This holiday season, you may be inviting guests to your Florida home for a meal or a party. Whether you are cooking a 4-course dinner or simply offering snacks, there is a good chance you may need a few food alternatives for guests with food allergies or food sensitivities.

Our Florida-based physicians and medical experts at Weight Success Centers want to emphasize that it is vital to always ask your guests if they have any food allergies. Also, be sure to honestly inform them about the ingredients in the foods you are serving. Here are basic things to know about types of food sensitivities and food alternatives for safe and healthy meal planning.

Varying Types of Food Allergies and Food Intolerance

Unfortunately, people can be allergic to anything from fish to fruits. The most common allergy culprits include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Milk and nut allergies mostly start in childhood, while seafood allergies are more common for adults. A person with food allergies may produce chemicals causing itchy skin, rashes, hives, abdominal issues, or severe inflammation.

Notably, nut allergies can be quite severe. People with allergies to pecans, almonds, and other nuts may suffer abdominal issues, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, or anaphylaxis in the worst cases. If you or a family member has serious allergies to nuts or other foods, be prepared at all times with emergency medications, such as an EpiPen. Also, keep some quick-acting antihistamines on hand to combat an allergic reaction. In the event of an emergency, call 911.

There are many other sensitivities and food intolerances. You have probably heard of gluten intolerance or gluten allergies, which can be serious for those allergic to wheat and grains. A gluten allergy can progress into rashes, nausea, and brutal digestive problems. Interestingly, the “gluten-free” trend is not entirely based on allergies. It has also become popular for general health and weight control. Whatever the reason for giving up gluten, there are countless “gluten-free” products available today.

Healthy Food Alternatives for Holiday Meal Planning

Obviously, cooks should skip the seafood and leave nuts out of recipes when necessary for those with allergies. Savvy cooks, however, will also try cooking with food alternatives for the sake of nutrients. For example, amaranth is a popular alternative grain for anyone wanting to avoid gluten. Amaranth’s starchy seeds are a “pseudocereal” with a healthy number of vitamins, minerals, and protein, which makes it a perfect substitution for recipes calling for wheat, rice, or cereal-like textures.

As for dairy or milk substitutes, we live in the golden age of creamy alternatives, such as soy, rice, oat, almond, and coconut milk. Many dairy-free alternatives are fortified with vitamins, have fewer calories, and have less fat than cow’s milk.

Wonderfully, food alternatives could also help boost fiber and nutrients in dishes, such as substituting vitamin-rich cauliflower or rutabaga in place of starchy potatoes in your holiday recipes. Rutabaga, a cruciferous cross between a turnip and cabbage, is great for mashing or roasting with herbs. Contact our Florida physicians and experts for other meal planning tips and medical solutions for wellness.

Are you prepared to serve guests with food sensitivities this season? Join the conversation on Weight Success Centers’ social media sites and find more great tips to share with your friends and families.


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