Summer is a time that's celebrated, especially amongst kids. It's the best time of year to get outside, have fun and enjoy your favorite experiences like swimming.
Wherever kids go, food will always follow. They'll need constant access to snacks and meals since they're always running around and burning through their metabolism. If you're preparing to be the one to give your kids and their friends fun foods to choose from this summer, it's time to brush up on summer food allergies.
Summer food allergies are much like year-round allergies, except that they more commonly flare up with foods that are more popular to eat in the summer. Read on to learn about the most common summer food allergies and how you can keep from triggering them.
Avoid Using Peanuts
Peanuts are a very common allergy in kids that sometimes gets outgrown. Unfortunately, this one is accidentally triggered in the summer because nuts are a popular summer food.
They're served as snacks and sprinkled on ice cream. Sometimes they're included in pre-packaged food, so you won't find them in the ingredients list until after you get home. Watch out for peanuts this summer, especially when you're out at summer activities like baseball.
Stay Away from Milk
Nothing is quite as refreshing as a cold drink after a hot day. Kids are going to want to drink whatever's in your fridge, so make sure to stock something besides milk.
Lactose intolerance is something 65 percent of people deal with, so you're one of the lucky ones if it isn't something you have to mindful of in your everyday diet. Be aware that some of your kid's friends or the ones you're serving food to at summer camps will probably fall into this category.
Buy healthy juices or low-calorie drinks for kids to hydrate without having to worry about their allergies. They'll end up liking those much better anyway than plain milk or even the standard glass of water.
Skip the Shellfish
Being allergic to shellfish is another common allergy in kids. Summer is when people like to eat lighter, so fish will be served wherever you go for backyard parties.
If you're going to something like a fish-themed lake party, you're not out of options. Even pescatarians can enjoy some well-cooked lobster. It's not technically fish because it's a crustacean. Anyone who prefers not to eat fish or has an allergy will still be able to dine on lobster, which can be cooked into mac and cheese as an easier dish for kids to eat.
Don't Serve Fruit
Fruit is in season during the spring and summer, so you'll see it at farmer's markets and in more supply at your local grocery store. It's one of the most common sides to serve for guests during the summer, but some kids may not be able to eat it.
A few summer fruits will trigger kids who are allergic to pollen since the fruits contain proteins that are similar to pollen. Even if you wash them off, they still won't be a safe food for some kids with strong allergies.
Here are some fruits to avoid if you know you'll be serving kids who struggle the most during pollen season:
If you're hosting a party and still want to have fruit out, just set it up on a table where the kids can't reach it. The parents who choose to include it on their own plates will know what fruit their kids can and can't share with them.
Leave Out Citrus Drinks
A popular way to cool down in the summer is to drink citrus infused drinks. There are even special containers made to allow the citrus fruit to sit in the water pitcher without being poured out with the water.
This is another time where it's safer to stick with the more common juice boxes. Citrus allergies are rare, but they still exist. They occur when a child is unable to tolerate the full taste of citrus. It's technically not a traditional allergy, but will still produce symptoms like:
- Tingling in the gums and tongue
Common antihistamines that are bought over the counter will help a citrus reaction, but a child that has trouble breathing should be brought to the emergency room.
Some symptoms may not appear until hours after citrus consumption, so be aware of what the symptoms are, as younger kids may not even know about this rare allergy.
What's one of the most common summer foods for kid's parties? Pizza. It's cheap, serves many kids at once and it's easy finger food for kids of all ages to enjoy.
Keep in mind that gluten intolerance and gluten allergies are also very common in kids. Depending on how severe the allergy is, they might not think twice before eating the pizza or other food that contains gluten because they enjoy the taste so much.
The awareness of gluten allergies has become much more well known in recent years, so there are bound to be gluten-free alternatives to whatever food you want to serve to kids. Look up different recipes online or check out the gluten-free sections of your grocery store to see what's available.
Not sure what a bad reaction to gluten would look like? Read about these symptoms and keep an eye out for:
- Extreme bloating
- Skin rashes
- Abdominal cramps
Talk with the parents of the kids you know to learn how severe of a reaction to gluten they might have and if it's safe to be offered alongside gluten-free options at all.
Keep Communication Open
The best thing you can do this summer before you feed any kids is to communicate with the parents. Younger kids won't know to speak up about their food allergies and may even feel pressured to eat what makes them feel bad so they fit in with their friends.
If parents are honest about what their kids can and cannot eat, you'll find allergen-free alternatives to the food you want to prepare. It's always a safe idea to ask before bringing food to birthday parties or play dates.