Moving - a time in one’s life when one’s home is upended, stress levels are high, and organization is a distant dream. Moving with food allergies can be all the more stressful, as one navigates their constantly changing surroundings. Last summer, my family moved, and it was a very exciting time! But when I tried to look for articles regarding food allergies and moving, to my dismay, nothing came up. As someone with peanut, tree nut and shellfish allergies, I was most nervous about moving into someone else's kitchen. After 15 years of carefully cultivating a nut-free home, there were so many unknowns! Being prepared and planning ahead can make your move with food allergies go smoothly.
Some realtors may use food as a way to entice potential buyers, such as by baking cookies before a showing to waft a pleasant aroma through the house. If you are concerned about people eating in your home and bringing allergens inside, inform your realtor of your food allergies so that they do not give out food. They can also discourage potential buyers from bringing snacks into your house during a showing.
If you will be moving long distance, keep an insulated cooler full of safe foods and icepacks for the road in case there are no safe restaurants or grocery stores to stop at nearby. Weeks in advance of your move, research and locate allergy-friendly restaurants in your new town. Outline where exactly you will eat the first night you arrive, as similar to traveling, moving can be exhausting, and you may not have the energy to cook a full meal when you get there. It is important to plan ahead, by locating restaurants that you feel can accommodate you in case you need somewhere to eat. If you plan to cook, pack a separate box that is easily accessible, with a few essentials like pots, pans, plates and other simple cooking tools you may need. You don’t want to have to dig through 16 boxes marked “kitchen” to find the spatula.
Most importantly, keep track of your Epi-pens! Moving is chaotic; with packing and traveling, things are always bound to get lost in the shuffle. It would be devastating to have your small, square Auvi-Qs slip into a random box, only to find them in a box marked “Christmas lights” 6 months later. To prevent this, keep them with you at all times. I kept mine in their usual carrying case, which I put into a small backpack containing my phone, charger, a snack and other essentials.
On arriving at your new house, one may want to stop and take it all in. But there is work to be done before you can call this new place home. If you have airborne food allergies, have a family member open a window or run an air cleaner before you arrive in an effort to remove lingering allergens from the air (if you have environmental or pet allergies, this is also a great first step).
Tackle the kitchen first, where there are most likely to be residual allergens. Here are some tips to thoroughly “de-allergize” your kitchen:
Use disinfectant wipes to clean countertops, drawer and cabinet handles, light switches, oven nobs, fridge handles and any other contact surfaces to remove allergens.
Wipe out drawers with soap and warm water, and let them dry, before unpacking your own silverware and utensils.
Place contact paper (can be purchased at any craft store) along the base of the drawers and cabinets to create an additional buffer between any potential leftover allergens and your dishes.
Take out any drawers or shelves from your fridge, and give them a good clean with dish soap and warm water. Thoroughly wipe out the areas of the fridge that can not be cleaned.
Wipe out the microwave with warm water and soap.
Vacuum the pantry and cabinets to get crumbs out of hard-to-reach corners.
Once you feel your new kitchen is properly cleaned to your comfort level, time to unpack - good luck!