Unless you have your own food allergies, or have a loved one who has, it can be difficult to understand why there are so many demands around food today. Without getting too scientific, I’d like to share a bit about what it means for your attendees who live with food allergies—and how you can support every attendee’s health during your event. 

What does it mean to have food allergies or sensitivities?
Food allergies and sensitivities range in severity. While some attendees just feel better when they avoid certain foods, there will be others who have life-threatening allergies. An obvious choice for meeting planners is to avoid serving foods that would cause a life-threatening situation during the event. But what about those who aren’t allergic, but whose systems are compromised by the types of food they’re offered, leaving them feeling bloated, headachy, or lethargic?

If you want to fully support your attendees’ health, and ensure they have an exceptional meeting experience, you’ll want to offer food that supports each and every person regardless of the extent of their sensitivity or allergy. One way is to avoid foods that are high in sugar or highly processed. Also, incorporate fresh, whole foods as often as possible, and select gluten-free whole grains for meals. 

How is it possible to be respectful of allergies when there are so many to consider?
Get everyone moving in the right direction from the start. Ask your attendees what their allergies/sensitivities are when they register. Once you have their data, take proactive measures. Team with the executive chef to discuss options that will avoid the top two or three allergens and serve the greater population. Provide cards to the attendees with allergies so they may place the card on the table for the server to see. The server will then know, without any conversation, that the attendee is in need of an allergen-free meal.

Small menu changes can make a huge difference. When you remove the top two or three allergens shared during registration, you will create an environment of inclusiveness since the majority of your group will be eating the same meal. The chef can take extra measures to support those who have additional allergies. 

It doesnt have to be overwhelming.
Navigating the world of food allergies and sensitivities can seem overwhelming in the beginning.  However, once you put the time and effort into identifying “safe” foods, you and the executive chef can move forward to create healthy, allergen-free meals that create ease for all.