Know what you're eating

Allergic to christmas?

Christmas allergy

Christmas is nearly upon us and with it comes greetings, gifts, spending time with friends and family and, above all, lots of celebrations. Celebrations where we eat too much and too well. Business dinners, meals with friends, the most special days with the family ...

Everything sounds great, right? But we must be careful. According to the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC), Christmas comes with an increased risk of suffering a food allergy. In this article we will see why this is the case and what foods we should be most careful about.

Why do allergies increase?

There are several reasons why the number of allergic reactions multiplies during Christmas, but broadly, it is all due to changes to our normal routines, something which directly affects our diet.

According to SEAIC, seven out of ten serious allergic reactions occur when eating out. The company dinners or celebrations that we have already mentioned are a change to our normal routine and this makes it harder to keep track of the preparation and handling of any food we eat.

Many people also take advantage of Christmas to travel, and travelling involves eating in unknown places and trying dishes that are often alien to us. If the simple act of eating out increases the risk of eating harmful food, that risk is even greater when we eat in other countries.

However, during these dates we may even run the risk of allergies when eating at home. During a Christmas meal it is normal to eat things that we wouldn’t normally eat during the rest of the year and this means that children often come into contact with new foods for the first time.

In addition, having so much variety means that there is a greater risk of cross contamination for allergy sufferers. It is also normal to relax a bit and be more flexible since these are special days. This can be a fatal mistake, if we take into account that typical Christmas dishes usually contain allergens.

Christmas foods that most cause allergies

We have already seen the risks of moving away from our normal diet, which is why we must exercise caution and be on the alert. What foods consumed most at Christmas require special attention?

There are many foods that can cause allergies, but we want to highlight the two most typically found at Christmas. Seafood is present in all celebrations and it is one of the foods that causes the most allergies worldwide. In addition, it requires special attention, as it is possible to be allergic to some types of seafood but not to others.

The main symptoms are coughing, difficulty swallowing or breathing, an itchy rash, abdominal pain or vomiting, and in the most severe cases they can even cause anaphylaxis.

The other food to consider is nuts, especially peanuts, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. These are the most commonly eaten, and the problem on these dates is that sometimes it is not clear that they are there. Many cases of allergic reactions occur because Christmas sweets like nougat or shortbread cookies are made with nuts. The symptoms are very similar to those described above.

How to avoid allergies

To minimise your risks and enjoy the celebrations without any nasty frights, it is important for allergy sufferers to follow a series of guidelines.


  • Always take medication with you.
  • Inform your hosts about your allergies.
  • Follow good hygiene measures to avoid cross contamination.
  • Read the labels on food products.
  • Ask for a list of the ingredients in particular dishes if you are eating out.


Merry Christmas!

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