Long before a kiss goodnight, tell your Valentine about your food allergies. A simple question about what was eaten before a smooch may dampen the mood. But, a potential reaction can make your health and the date get real complicated.
Food proteins and particles from common allergens can stay in saliva for hours after eating. If you’ve already eaten an offending allergen, pucker up and wait. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), to prevent an allergy reaction, the non-allergic person should brush his or her teeth, rinse his or her mouth, and avoid the offending food for 16 to 24 hours before kissing.
Here are a few other tips to keep a food allergic Valentine safe:
- Sip your own drink. Sharing a glass of wine or champagne means sharing sips of saliva containing the allergen, which increases the chance of a reaction.
- Check the Chocolates. Boxed hearts filled with assorted chocolates can lead to heartbreak if you don’t read the labels. Avoid items with labels that state “may contain” or “also manufactured in a facility that processes” any of the common allergens – peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, eggs, milk, soy, fish and shellfish.
There are several brands of safe sweets and you can also visit SnackSafely guide that list allergen-free candies and snacks. Try making your own safe Valentine treat. Check out the recipe for these Nut free Truffles – delish!
- Gifts of jewelry and perfume may cause a stink. Nickel allergies and chrome-plated and 14K and 18K gold containing nickel may irritate the skin. Strong fragrances may also trigger allergies. Use little or no perfume or cologne on the date and avoid giving fragrance as a gift.
- Roses are a girl’s best friend. According to ACAAI, roses, begonias, daffodils, geraniums, crocus, columbine, clematis and cactus are among flowers that carry little pollen compared to other flowers.
- Avoid sharing meals. Sharing a plate or utensils is another reaction risk. Put a sample of your meal on a separate plate using a clean utensil. When dining out, remember to inform the server, chef and/or restaurant manager about any food allergies when making reservations, upon arrival and when placing an order.
By the way, the same kissing rule applies to your little food allergic Valentines. My 9-year old daughter has no problem asking the “what did you eat today?” question. I hope she continues to take charge of her health when she begins to date. Wait, did I just say that?
It is too early to fathom and scary to imagine. The reality is young teens and adults will have to independently navigate life, managing food allergies in friendships and relationships.
An online dating network, Allergic Attraction, may help ease the awkwardness of the food allergy talk early in the dating game. Targeting primarily college students, the site promotes a social climate among friends managing food allergies. Also featured are social discussion forums focused on the common eight allergens.
Considering the recent growth of food allergies among children and adults, chances are a perfect love match may just be an allergic one.
Have a safe Valentine’s Day!