Staying at a friend’s place for the night is always a lot of fun. Sleepovers tend to be all about staying up all night, gossiping, eating, playing video games, watching movies and not a lot of sleep!
However, it can be daunting staying over at someone else’s house when you have a food allergy. Will they understand the severity of your allergy? What happens if you have an allergic reaction?
We have put together some simple ideas to help minimise the risk of having an allergic reaction when staying away from home for the night.
Talk to your friend
Speak with your friend about your food allergies before you get to their house. It can be hard sometimes to talk about your allergies, but it’s important that you do – especially when you’re staying the night. You might ask them what they have for dinner, or suggest a meal you would be comfortable eating away from home. This gives them and their family some time to prepare, making sure that they have safe food options for you.
If you’re not confident with their response, take some of your own food or snacks. For example, if you have a wheat allergy you might bring your own cereal and/or a few slices of gluten free bread to have for breakfast.
Your friend can share the information you give them with their parents. They may even remind their parents of your food allergy before you arrive.
When you arrive, just briefly remind your friend where they can find your EpiPen® or Anapen® and ASCIA Action Plan in case of an emergency.
If at any stage of the night you start to feel unwell and think you may be having an allergic reaction, it is important you speak up and let your friend or their parents know immediately.
Talk with your friend’s parents (or get mum or dad to do it)
As you get older or get to know your friend’s parents after a few sleep overs, you might find the confidence to speak to your friend’s parents directly. It may seem a bit awkward at first, however you will most likely find that your friend’s parents want to make sure you’re safe. It’s much less of a hassle to know about food allergies at the outset than have to respond to an emergency when it happens. Sometimes your friend’s parents may even approach you to ask questions about your allergy and what meals or snacks you can safely eat.
If you’re not confident about speaking directly to your friend’s parents about your allergies, ask your mum or dad to have a quick chat with them when they drop you off. Chances are they probably have already done so without you knowing! (and really….that’s OK – they are just trying to help keep you safe).
Slumber parties and movie marathons are popular among teenagers and young people. They are a lot of fun – even when doing the things you can do to keep yourself safe.
Take your own snacks
You’ll find that chocolates, lollies and other junk food goes hand in hand with slumber parties. So that you can join in the fun, take some of your own safe snacks. It might be a good idea to put your snacks in a plastic container to help keep them separate from other food at the party.
Don’t share food
Sharing food is common at slumber parties. There might be a big bowl of chips or lollies that everyone is eating out of. It’s important that you keep the food that is safe for you (that you have brought), separate and that you only eat that particular food. You don’t want contaminated fingers going into your safe stash.
Talk to your friends
Before the party, your friends may plan the snacks they’d like to have throughout the night. Don’t be afraid to speak up! Talk with your friends about your allergies so that they are aware and can be mindful of which snacks they purchase. You could also make suggestions for which snacks you like and know are safe for you to eat – you might find others like them too and everyone agrees to just get those snacks. For example, if you’re allergic to peanuts and/or tree nuts, you could suggest a particular brand of nut free chocolate. If you’re allergic to milk, you could suggest that you get milk-free. Stick with the brands you know and don’t forget to check the ingredients before eating them.
Even after speaking with your friends, it is still safest for you to bring your own snacks along to the party.
Staying over at a friend’s house should be fun, but if you’re finding it too difficult to manage your food allergies, you could always invite your friend to stay over at your house instead. This is a great idea for those with dustmite or pet allergy too. Other people’s homes might aggravate your hay fever, eczema or asthma so inviting them to your home means these allergens are generally managed as well.