How am I going to navigate the holidays with food intolerances is a question I asked myself for years. Having a food intolerance and with the holidays approaching can be intimidating and a little daunting. Trust me, I have been there. Here are my favorite tips and tricks that I have compiled over the past six years which will help you stay relaxed and allow you to actually enjoy your time at your next get together.
I also want to be very clear and state that a food allergy and a food intolerance are not the same. A food allergy symptoms can range from headaches and rashes, all the way to more severe reactions such as swelling of the airway and anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. The only sure way to be safe is complete avoidance of the food. A food intolerance response will cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, nausea, and upset stomach.
Bring an appetizer and/or a dessert
Bring a dish that is compliant with your diet that you can pass. This way you are bringing a dish and contributing to the meal but you can also relax knowing you will at least have something you can enjoy. I always like bringing desserts since they feel special to me, but appetizers are also a great option. Try making Chocolate Turtle Brownies, Ginger Molasses Cookies or this Winter Rainbow Salad.
Eat ahead of time
Before I go anywhere whether it's on a road trip, to an appointment or to a friends house, I always eat a meal before heading out the door. And not just any type of meal, but a protein packed meal. Protein helps you stay full for longer. So if I know I'm headed to a friends or family's house for a holiday party and I'm just not sure what will be served, I know I will not be hungry for at least the first part of the party.
Stock up your purse with snacks
I always have snacks in my purse and in my car for when those moments hit and I'm just so incredibly hungry. I recommend stocking up your purse before heading to the holiday party so you're always prepared. Some of my favorites include:
- Chomps Snack Sticks
- Banana and other fruit
- Homemade Paleo Trail mix
- Epic Beef Jerky
- Carrot and celery sticks
- 88 Acres Seed Butters
Ask the host what they plan on making
If you are being invited to a party, there's good chance you know the host. Give them a call and ask what they plan on serving. Don't be afraid to ask the ingredients in some fo the dishes if you are unsure. This will not only allow you to plan what you can eat, but will also help you plan what type of dish you may want to bring to pass. Trust me, as someone who has hosted plenty of get togethers, this is not bothersome and the host of your party will not mind discussing the menu.
Grab digestive enzymes and activated charcoal just in case
Two products I always have in my purse and in my medicine cabinet at home are activated charcoal and digestive enzymes. These two products, which have different purposes have saved me many of times while eating at friends houses and when going out to eat at restaurants.
Activated charcoal is adsorbent, meaning things will bind to it. Taking activated charcoal in times where you maybe consume too much dairy and you know you can not tolerate it, the activated charcoal will bind to the dairy proteins and remove them from the body. I do recommend consulting with a doctor before including activated charcoal in your diet since healthy bacteria can also bind to it.
Digestive enzymes can also be very helpful in these types of situations. I have low hydrochloric acid or stomach acid and I also have a hard time digesting fat. This is where my digestive enzymes come in. If I know I'm going to consume a food that is high in protein or fat, I will take a few digestive enzymes to help alleviate any bloating, gas and other discomforts.
Notes for the host
If you are inviting friends and family to a party, you are probably already aware of any special diets and intolerances that they may have. Just to be safe and accommodating, ask your guests ahead of the party if they have any food intolerances you need to be aware of. If so, grab a piece of card stock and write vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc...and place it next to the dish. So as your guests eat and fill their plates, they feel comfortable knowing which foods they can enjoy.
There is a clear distinction between a food intolerance and food allergy. If you fall under the food intolerance category and you feel that you can have that slice of cheesecake or a dinner roll with your meal, go for it. Indulging here and there is not going to make you fall off the bandwagon completely. I personally stick to a Paleo diet but when the holidays come around, I may eat that gluten-free dinner roll or have a piece of dairy-free pumpkin pie. The only time I do not recommend veering from your diet is if you have a food allergy or an autoimmune condition such as Celiac disease where you know a certain food will cause damage and result in an immense amount of pain. Otherwise, there are a lot of great tips and tricks to help keep you comfortable this holiday season.
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