When you are a person dealing with food allergies and sensitivities eating out can be like navigating a mine field. I’ve learned from the start that even well-meaning family and friends don’t always ‘get’ the allergy. “Oh, you can’t drink milk? It’s okay to have just a little cheese though, right? That’s not REALLY milk.” Sigh.
The holidays are a joyful time of family gatherings, often centered around a meal. For someone with food allergies this can be totally stressful. It is stressful to worry about what you are going to eat but also how not to offend someone when you have to avoid certain foods like the plague.
Having to work around food allergies myself, I really have learned how to strike a balance as to not stress about food. It is damaging to the body and we have enough stress that we shouldn’t have added food stress to our lives.
Decide what is negotiable and what isn’t when it comes to your restrictions.
For me, I need to avoid almonds, gluten, dairy and eggs. That is a tall order. Of those things I absolutely cannot handle eggs. My reaction is too high. However, I know my body can handle a bit of butter and cheese so I don’t mind once in a while if my food has some.
I know this is not possible for people with full-blown allergies but for some of us, the stress of not being super restrictive during the holidays relieves a burden.
Tips for the holidays with food allergies
1. Eat well while at a home
Avoid the food that bothers you while you are at home! I know, it’s hard. Everyone is sending cookies and candies and treats, but save the indulgences (or negotiable foods) for when you are out and about. You will enjoy the events more because you won’t be feeling icky.
2. Drinks lots of water
You should always keep yourself hydrated for every day health. When you are possibly getting food that might not agree with you, it is even more important to keep the water flowing as it will help flush out your digestive system. Adding a touch of lemon will also help as it will aid your liver in functioning.
3. Eat your veggies
I know it’s more difficult in the winter, but you really want to get your greens in! Have a smoothie to replace your breakfast on a day that you know you’ll be around food that you don’t normally eat. Starting the day off with a good portion of veggies is just going to help your body maintain homeostasis so much better.
If there is a salad or veggie tray around, load up on it! You don’t have to have junk to take part in sharing a meal if there is a vegetable tray available.
4. Eat before you go the event
It may sound counter productive, but eat before you go! Eat just enough that you aren’t stuffed but enough that you won’t be tempted by the food you can’t eat. There is nothing worse than be surrounded by food you can’t then being surrounded by food you can’t eat while STARVING!
5. Bring a dish to share
Don’t even ask, just bring a dish to share. Bringing food that you know you can eat cuts down on the stress of not knowing what is going to be available. Just one item will give you the ease of not feeling funny about not eating when everyone is else is eating.
6. Make treats and freeze them so they are quickly available
If you’re feeling sad about passing up the cheesecake loaded with dairy, you can look forward to the nice treat you know you have waiting for you at home! I love being able to pull out some allergy friendly cookies when I get home. This is how I don’t feel deprived of dessert. We all know how important dessert can be.
7. Keep up with your supplements
When you do stray off course with food, it’s really important to stick to your supplement routine. Your body needs those nutrients and too many changes can make for a miserable belly and weaken your immune system. (If you need some ideas on keeping your immune system happy, check out these ideas.)
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make sure you are eating extra cultured foods and beverages to add to your healthy gut bacteria.
So many times I get caught up in food issues that I had to take time to really think HOW I could deal with eating out and with others without the fuss. I have seen so many people alienate themselves over food and it breaks my heart that it comes down to that.
And I also know how important it is to keep your gut happy and healthy. Having a plan in place is going to help keep that gut happy and you less stressed about eating out.
I know I’m not the only one dealing with food sensitivities, what are your favorites tips when dealing with eating at gatherings?