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Ten ways to have a very merry (allergy-free) Christmas

*This is a guest post from Ruth Holroyd, who writes for the popular website [whatallergy.com][1].*

Christmas is fast approaching, and the festive season means extra vigilance for those with food allergies, intolerances or coeliac disease - but it doesn’t mean you have to miss out! Whether you’re spending Christmas with family and friends at home or jetting off for warmer or snowier climes, these top ten tips for surviving Christmas are a must-read. Make sure you’re prepared and take precautions, and you’ll be ready for anything!

1. **Stock up on prescription medication.** Make sure you're well supplied with inhalers, antihistamines, adrenalin injectors, skin
ointments, etc. - enough to last you until the New Year. (*NOTE:
Jext have recently recalled some batch numbers due to a needle
malfunction – check [here][2] to see if yours are affected.*)

2. **Don’t overdo it.** Sensitive immune systems can become challenged at this time of year, so by all means enjoy the Christmas parties, but make sure you listen to your body too; have an early night when
you can, and don’t drink too much. Order water in between every
alcoholic drink, and remember – alcohol can speed up an allergic
reaction, so take extra care.

3. **Stay hydrated.** Drink plenty of water and relaxing herbal teas like green, camomile, nettle or redbush. Atopic people, those who
tend to be more susceptible to allergies and eczema, are often prone
to sensitive skin.

4. **Moisturise**. Keeping your skin moisturised, especially in winter with the cold air and central heating, is vital. Maintaining a
strong skin barrier can help avoid contact allergens and skin
infections which can take hold faster and easier on chapped or
broken skin. Make time for oil or salt baths, and treat your skin;
try natural aloe vera, coconut oil or pure shea butter.

5. **Boost your immune system.** There are loads of things you can do to boost your immune system. Eating lots of fresh, raw fruits and
vegetables will help, and you might also want to try supplements
like echinacea, grape seed extract or milk thistle. An extra boost
of zinc, calcium, magnesium and other vitamins may also help give
you more energy.

6. **Plan carefully and offer to help**. If you’re eating out, make sure you speak to the host or manager; go through your allergies in
detail, look at each course and suggest safe alternatives. If you're
at a friend's house, offer to bring a dessert or arrive early to
give the host a hand. It means you will have peace of mind, and your
friend will feel happier if they can check ingredients. And, of
course, you can always host Christmas dinner yourself for complete
control!

7. **Freefrom goodies - they do exist!** This depends very much on what you’re allergic to, of course, but most supermarkets now have a
pretty good range of very tasty freefrom mince pies and Christmas
goodies. Stock up early, as freefrom aisles can suffer at Christmas
from competing shelf space. Use your freezer to store extra loaves
of GF bread.

8. **Make your own.** You can also make pretty great gluten, dairy, soya and nut free mince pies at home – trust me – everyone will want
to try them! Here's [my current favourite recipe][3], from
Sainsburys. Why not make some gluten -free cakes, cookies or
flapjacks etc. so you have some nice treats when everyone else is
tucking into the Christmas cake?

9. **It’s not always easy, but it can be a gift.** It can be challenging living with allergies, intolerances or coeliac disease,
but instead, try to see it as a gift. Choose healthier foods,
improve your health and be grateful for all the many foods you CAN
eat!

10. **Don’t forget ilumi and other convenience foods at stressful times.** Make sure you are prepared and order some of your
favourite ilumi pouch meals for those days when you can’t face cooking again!

I hope that none of you get glutened or have an allergic reaction this Christmas! Best wishes for a great holiday from [whatallergy.com!][4]

Do you have any tips to add? We'd love to hear them! Add your comments below, or join us on our [Facebook][5] page to continue the discussion!

[1]: http://www.whatallergy.com
[2]: http://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/living-with-anaphylaxis/news/do-you-carry-a-jext-adrenaline-auto-injector--if-so-please-read-this-important-alert
[3]: http://www.sainsburys-live-well-for-less.co.uk/recipes-inspiration/recipes/gluten-free-mince-pies/
[4]: http://www.whatallergy.com
[5]: http://www.facebook.com/plumbaby

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