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How to Enjoy Holiday Meals When You Have Dietary Restrictions

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I remember being younger and eating so much during the holidays that I felt sick afterwards. I’m sure many people can relate… I mean, what’s a holiday without overindulging a bit?

But what if you have dietary restrictions? The first year I was gluten-free I was still new at it so didn’t know exactly what foods snuck gluten in them. I remember a few holidays being starving and having to eat when I got home.

Since then I’ve learned how to help prevent this and still enjoy my holiday meals! Luckily, most of the time when I go to a family member’s house they leave some things aside (without the dairy, gluten and soy) so I can eat it. They’ve learned my restrictions and I’m so thankful that they help me out. But this isn’t the case all the time so here are just a couple of ways to still have an awesome time.

1. Bring food with you to a party! If there’s one thing I can’t live without on Thanksgiving, for example, it’s stuffing. Stuffing is basically mashed up gluten so we have a bit of a problem there. I always bring my own gluten/dairy/soy-free stuffing and gravy. For Christmas I’ll bring some sort of dessert (usually cookies). I’m not a huge dessert person but I’ve learned that hosts usually feel bad if they don’t have something to offer you, so it’s better to come prepared.

If you feel uncomfortable about bringing your own food, just explain to the host that you have dietary restrictions (you’re not simply ignoring their wonderful cooking!).

2. Eat a little bit before you go if you aren’t sure what the food situation will be. Not a ton, but a little. You may not know how much exactly there will be that you can eat so you can still feel satisfied after not eating as much as you maybe would have if you snack before.

You can also bring your own appetizers as well! There are tons of gluten/dairy/soy-free apps out there that everyone would love.

3. Ask the host to leave some of the items aside before adding sauces/toppings. This is pretty easy to do and if you know the host it’s something you can easily ask!

If you are hosting (and this is a biggie I think), don’t make everything catered to your needs only. If your family and friends care about you, they will definitely understand your restrictions. However, that doesn’t mean they need to eat by your diet as well. Double up. I know for a fact that my family doesn’t like the gravy I eat, and they’re OK with the stuffing… but I’d still never expect them to go without their own! They usually don’t mind gluten-free pasta, but I’d make regular as well for the holidays. The same goes for bread! Just double up on everything, unless it’s something that can be easily switched to your dietary needs without dramatically changing the food (such as a salad, chips and dip, a veggie or fruit platter, etc.). There can always be leftovers!

Most of all, have fun! These few simple tips can definitely make your meals more enjoyable. I know holidays can be stressful. Enjoy time with family, eat a lot and enjoy the holidays!

Image via Rawpixel

Originally published: December 22, 2018
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