Winter is here, which means common allergens are much worse since there is less ventilation in our homes. While allergies need to be treated by an expert allergist and require a solid medical treatment plan, there are plenty of practices and habits we can build to help mitigate the effects of allergies—and one of them includes a shift in our diet. Here are some allergy-free foods, recipes, and meal ideas that you can try this holiday season.

Foods and ingredients

  • Foods that are rich in quercetin, like peppers, berries, onions, and parsley. Quercetin, a natural plant chemical, has the ability to decrease “histamine reactions.” Part of the allergic response, histamines are often the reason we itch when we experience allergic reactions.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C, but especially kiwi. Vitamin C is also known for having the ability to cut down on histamines. Incorporate a lot of foods rich in vitamin C into your diet, like oranges and other citrus fruit.
  • An enzyme called bromelain can also help decrease irritation during an allergic episode and even in diseases like asthma. Some foods rich with this enzyme include pineapple and papaya, but kimchi, yogurt, asparagus, and ginger are common sources.
  • To help reduce inflammation, opt for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like mackerel, salmon, and tuna. A study made in Japan found that women who have more fish in their diets had lower chances of allergic rhinitis. This condition is also called hay fever.
  • Probiotics and other good-for-you bacteria are also key to lessening the effects of allergies. To incorporate more probiotics into your diet, choose fermented foods and yogurts that claim “live active culture” on their labels.
  • Another ingredient that can help you increase tolerance toward pollen is local honey because ingesting it can be likened to ingesting local pollen and helps to build up one’s immunity against pollen. The studies conducted on the matter have been inconclusive. Nevertheless, honey can still be a good remedy for sore throat because it can immediately bring relief. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also encourages the use of honey if one’s sore throat is accompanied by a cough.

For the gluten-intolerant

having a meal together

An “allergy-friendly” meal entails safe foods and ingredients that are free from allergens and even gluten. Contrary to popular belief, safe and allergy-friendly meals need not be bland or dull. Here are some ways to turn your favourite meals and snacks gluten-free and allergy-friendly.

  • Use gluten-free flour alternatives. For example, any recipe that requires flour can be swapped out for gluten-free flour. Chickpea flour is a good example—and some recipes that incorporate this ingredient include vegan omelets and breaded tofu cutlets. Other gluten-free flours include amaranth, quinoa, soy, teff, millet, nut flours, and bean flours. Flour is the main ingredient that makes the most difference between gluten-free baking and regular baking.
  • Gluten-free grains are also key to transitioning to a gluten-free and allergy-friendly diet. While most people who change to a gluten-free diet often opt for brown rice instead of regular rice, there are many other options. Cous cous and barley are off the table, but you can still have buckwheat, quinoa, millet, fava, amaranth, and teff. Each grain has its own texture and taste, and they are healthy and hearty but still delicious alternatives to rice.

Now more than ever, we need to find ways to honour and protect our health. It is of utmost importance to take measures to ensure we stay fit and healthy. So if you have a vulnerability to allergic reactions, consider switching your diet, too. Your health and body will thank you for it this winter season.

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