Tips to Successfully Request Food-Allergy-Friendly Dishes at Gatherings & Events
I believe that staying flexible around food is an important part of keeping the holidays healthy and stress free, but what about when you have food restrictions and genuine allergies?
First, you should always honor your food restrictions.
If you have a real food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance, honor those. If you know certain foods make you downright sick, skip them. That is taking care of yourself.
To make this happen while still enjoying holiday classics, you can plan ahead to have some of your favorite holiday dishes/sweets made with substitutions that will allow you to still have your holiday loves, but not get sick in the process.
Here some simple ways to get friends, family, or co-workers on board:
Find out what the menu will be in advance. Be realistic about the main dishes that can be made to accommodate you – turkey, potatoes, etc.
Talk to whoever is doing the cooking / ordering well before the holiday and don’t go into the science of why you are choosing to eat the way you are. You don’t need to go into all the grizzly details about what happens to your bowel movements if you eat dairy. Ha! Yes, I’ve had clients admit to doing it! Instead, focus on keeping your symptoms at a PC, “need-to-know” level and your personal goals. Acknowledge that it might not make sense to them, and it might even “seem crazy” but you can only do this with their help.
Ask that they set aside plain cooked foods for you. Many allergy ingredients are in the final preparation or seasonings. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, etc. You can add butter, spices, or whatever you’re comfortable with to your portion later.
If it’s a family event or someone you’re close with is cooking, you can offer to help cook You get to monitor your portions and they get extra help!
Bring your own side(s). Make a few things you know you can eat and enjoy. You don’t have to make a PSA about how its gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. Just put it on the table and move on. If you know someone has allergies to what you have made, pull them aside and let them know the dish is dairy free, gluten free, etc, but everyone doesn’t need an extra label for what you made.
Roll with the punches. Do not get upset if an “Ooops!” happens on the big day. Scrape the gravy off, eat around the croutons, pick off the cheese. Obviously, if you have a serious allergy, this doesn’t work, but for most people this does. Just don’t use this as an excuse to go hog wild with excess servings and “all the things,” which is what people usually do and then they feel sick. A little does not usually set people off terribly. It’s when you go “What the heck!” and eat all the dinner rolls because you had a smidgen of gravy that had gluten that the not-so-good symptoms arise. Remember, you can always make something you really wanted yourself and enjoy it, especially if it was really something you wanted and have not had in a long time.