| February 11, 2013

As Valentine’s Day approaches, there are likely plenty of things on your mind when it comes to planning the perfect evening: where to make reservations, what to give as a gift, or how to make it memorable.

But have you ever considered your date’s allergies before?

READ: There's Gluten in THAT?!

Food allergies might not be on the top of your list, but what if the person you date has a serious shellfish allergy and you've ordered shrimp scampi for dinner? Or you accidentally misread the label on antioxidant-rich dark chocolate strawberries made in a facility with nuts, and your loved one is allergic to nuts?

Here are some tips to ensure your partner’s lips don’t swell mid-embrace or that your date isn't running to the bathroom during your five-course meal:

  1. Read all labels before buying your lover a box of chocolates, decorative cookies or other tasty treats.  Special holiday or bite-size candies can have different ingredients than their traditional versions, so keep your eyes wide open when purchasing gifts. 
  2. Have an open and honest conversation with your partner about their food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity. Make them feel comfortable sharing their concerns depending on the severity of their allergy. Let them know you will make any sacrifice when it comes to what you eat.  (Note: If you can’t forgo the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups at the movies with your peanut allergic beloved, you are not ready to be in a relationship with this person!)
  3. If you are preparing a romantic dinner or making reservations at your local bistro, take extra precautions to ask for help at the grocery store, or your chef or waiter to ensure that anything you are preparing or ordering does not contain your sweetie’s allergen. Taking these pre-date steps not only shows you care, but sets you up for an evening uninterrupted by an allergy attack.
  4. Move the focus of the date away from food! Try a Vinyasa yoga class, a dive in the pool, a hike up a mountain, or take in a concert.
  5. If you do, in fact, want to have some fun in the kitchen, take a cooking class that is safe for your partner’s allergen(s). Make a safe dinner together or bring in a talented chef who knows how to specialize in “free from” cooking as a surprise.
  6. Plan ahead if you plan on action! Before going in for the kiss, make sure you’ve been conscious of your food choices that day, washed your hands and face, brushed your teeth and flossed.
  7. Lastly, relax, enjoy and have fun! Managing romance and food allergies is only an obstacle if you make it into one.