Now that December is just around the corner (how did that happen??!), many of us are probably getting ready for parties, trips and family get-togethers. Now, aside from shopping-induced-anxiety, the holidays are fun, festive and relaxing, right? Well if you have food allergies, maybe not always so.
My biggest challenge in managing my food allergies has always been travelling. Whether it be just a day of running errands, an afternoon out shopping, or flying across the country, those nagging questions are always at the back of my mind… what am I going to eat? Will I get hungry before I get home? What kind of food will there be available when I’m out? How much time will I have to hunt for a snack or a meal if I get hungry? Do I have time to pack something myself? Has my emergency snack stash run out yet?
Not too long ago, I tweeted the question: What do you do when you’re stuck for food – starve or eat something you shouldn’t? And I got an intelligent answer back from a naturopathic doctor… neither – always be prepared. Easier said that done sometimes. But the key here is to know how to prepare so that preparation in itself isn’t a whole marathon on its own.
The easiest way to prepare is to find a snack bar that meets your dietary needs. Buy them in large quantities and pepper them everywhere: in your car, in your purse(s), in your desk at work, in your suitcase (if you travel a lot), in your laptop bag… you get the idea. This option is the most convenient, but of course has a few downsides. First, if you have multiple food allergies, finding a suitable bar may not be possible. Second, this option get pricey, fast.
The second option is to buy snack foods in bulk. This might include dried fruit, nuts or cereals. The cheapest way to get these is probably your local bulk store. When you get home, you can repackage these snacks into small sandwich bags or re-sealable bags and stash them away in various places as mentioned above. While this is definitely a cheaper option, Celiacs should stay away from bulk stores in general due to possible cross-contamination and also the possibility of aspirating floating gluten particles. And with these snack foods generally being finger foods – you will want to wash or sanitize your hands before reaching into the bag, especially if you’ve been out in public.
Your third option is to make your own snacks. If you make a big enough batch of snacks, they should last you quite a long time, so set aside a Sunday afternoon for this task, and involve your kids – they’ll love helping out. What snacks can you make? Well, one great snack is a homemade nut bar. These are a cinch to make – with only nuts and honey and/or rice syrup. Just be sure to cut them and separate them from your baking sheet before they cool completely – otherwise you might have to call upon your inner Excalibur to pry them out. You can also dehydrate your own sulphite-free fruit (with the help of a dehydrator), make a batch of cookies or bake some savoury crackers. You can even freeze cookie or cracker dough, and have a fresh batch ready within minutes once you’ve run out. And for an easy to eat snack at home or work, you can also make your own non-cow yogurt.
So being prepared isn’t so daunting afterall. It’s all in the way we go about preparing it, and making the most of our precious time.