Surviving the holidays with food intolerances can definitely be a challenge. As well all know, food is a huge part of Christmas / the holiday season. Whether it's a turkey and all the trimmings, chocolate treats hanging on the tree or the smell of roasting chestnuts by the fire, tempting treats are all around us.
Trouble is, a lot of us have food intolerances or sensitivities and so many of those tempting treats are off-limits. That doesn't mean we can't enjoy ourselves though! I hope these ideas help you out.
Just a note - if you have food allergies or food intolerances, or suspect that you do, then it is imperative that you consult a doctor or dietician. This post is for informational use only and does not constitute medical advice in any way.
- When talk turns to food . . .
- If you are hosting a holiday gathering
- When you are the guest at a holiday gathering
- And for Zoom meet-ups
- Remember that food isn't the only part of the holidays
- Drop hints that any food gifts need to comply with your food intolerances . . .
- Look up holiday recipes for your dietary requirements
- Holiday gift ideas
- Related posts:
- 💬 Comments
When talk turns to food . . .
Surviving the holidays with food intolerances can often mean surviving a lot of questions and conversations about your food intolerances. People just love to have an opinion don't they . . .
At these times I tend to just smile, be as gracious as I can and turn the conversation to something else. A family gathering isn't always the best place to have difficult conversations, and I find it best to have that kind of conversation well before an event if possible.
Have an ally (if you are able) - if you have a friend or relative that understands the importance of your dietary restrictions to help manage your health, then get them on board. Maybe have a chat beforehand and ask them to be supportive if talk turns to food (especially if others are giving you a hard time).
If you are hosting a holiday gathering
If you are the host of a holiday gathering, then it feels reasonable to me that your guests eat (and enjoy!) the food that you cook. So if that is dairy-free, gluten-free, low histamine or any other diet, then I would suggest giving them notice that your food will be as such. Hopefully your guests will love your dishes and be thankful for good food, good company and maybe even trying something new they haven't eaten before.
If you get complaints beforehand, then suggest they bring their own dishes and they heat up at your home. It seems a little silly, but if it prevents holiday friction then so be it. Just means you get to cook a bit less!
When you are the guest at a holiday gathering
I learnt fairly early on that if I am the guest at a friend's home then I should offer to bring my own food, or at least a dish or two. A low histamine diet isn't well-known and is rather complicated, so it doesn't seem too fair for someone to try and figure it all out. I know it took me a while to get my head around it! Sometimes people surprise me though and suggest a meal beforehand and check it is OK with me, which is lovely.
If you are taking a dish, just check whether they are happy for you to reheat it. I'm sure they will, but it's polite to give them a heads-up. And maybe ask what kind of food they are serving. It's nice to be able to go along with any theme.
Or perhaps you only need to take a 'main' and can have the vegetables and any side dishes they are preparing. Have a chat about what they are having, and any additional ingredients (especially any additions such as vinegar, alcohol or spices that may not work for you).
And for Zoom meet-ups
Given the current climate a great deal of us will be celebrating via Zoom or other video-call. In a way this is easier, as we can prepare our own food according to our own needs and tastes.
If talk turns to food you can always share what you have cooked and perhaps surprise others with the fact that food on a restrictive diet doesn't mean bland and boring! You never know, they may be inspired to try something themselves that you have cooked . . .
Remember that food isn't the only part of the holidays
Would it be lovely to have an amazing meal that was exactly the kind of holiday food you would like? Of course, but if you are visiting friends or relatives then lowering expectations may help (even if it is annoying!). Personally I don't think it is worth any friction or arguments to discuss food. Some people don't want to understand, and think food intolerances are a gimmick. It's not worth the battle to persuade them otherwise during the holiday season. Save that for another day . . .
So instead focus on what the holidays can mean beyond food! Spending time with loved ones, being able to relax and just watch the kids open gifts, play with the dog and watch nostalgic holiday shows.
Drop hints that any food gifts need to comply with your food intolerances . . .
We all know that food makes a lovely holiday gift idea, but receiving something that you can't eat is so disappointing. We all want to be able to eat whatever we want but that may not be on your gift-givers mind. So maybe drop hints that any food needs to be suitable for your diet. I still feel sad over the enormous chocolate bar I got given and had to pass on last year!
Look up holiday recipes for your dietary requirements
With food intolerances being more and more recognised, there are now lots of fun recipes online for you to enjoy! Here are some good blogs and websites for different dietary requirements that are brimming with good food:
Low histamine diet
Through the Fibro Fog / Low Histamine Kitchen (well, I had to include my own recipes!)
BBC Good Food gluten-free recipes
Jamie Oliver's gluten-free recipes
Simply Quinoa (mostly vegan & vegetarian)
Vegan diet (so dairy-free)
Holiday gift ideas
There are so many great food products for those of us with food intolerances now, and we all know that food makes a great holiday gift idea!
Some good ones:
Nomo chocolate (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg free, nut free)
Hu dark chocolate (vegan, gf, paleo)
Nutiva organic vegan hazelnut spread (vegan, gluten-free)
Candy Kittens gourmet gluten free blueberry sweets (gf)
Dang coconut chips (vegan, gf)
Milton's Craft baked crackers (gf)
(Just a note that not all of these are low histamine, for my usual readers 🙂 )
Hope this post was helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have any other useful tips to share with others 🙂
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Low histamine recipes collection
Adding flavour to your low histamine recipes
Living the low histamine life - FAQ
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Katie Clark says
What?! You found vegan chocolate hazelnut spread! This is one of my favorites that I have given up for YEARS due to the kind I find in the stores being made with dairy. THANK YOU!
Sheryl Chan says
What a great post with useful insight both for the chronically ill and the host! It can be tough not to be able to enjoy eating whatever you want, and also the need to 'bother' others about it, but we didn't ask to be this way.
Alison Hayes says
Claire - this is great advice! I will never forget the Thanksgiving where I thought I had interstitial cystitis. At the time I was given a draconian list of no-go foods and was so unfamiliar with it all that I couldn't even think about discussing options in advance. There were very few things that I felt I could safely eat and it sucked all the joy out of the day for me.
It's so important to think about food intolerances, and it's so amazing how varied the needs of even just this one small piece of the disabled community are.
So true, they are so varied depending upon the health issue in question. I've found that bringing my own food is often the easiest, and means that I can enjoy the day without worrying about what is and isn't in the dishes prepared by the host.
Leslie Krongold says
Many of these are great ideas and I hope family hosts will take it on. I've become used to bringing some food to gatherings. Not only am I a vegetarian -- which most people seem to know how to accommodate these days -- but I have dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) and few really understand what I need. My go-to food is hummus -- vegetarian, protein-rich, and easy to chew and swallow. 😉
Thanks Leslie! I find it easier to bring some food with me too. Makes me and the host less stressed I find 🙂 And I love hummus, but can't do chickpeas because of histamine so make my own cauliflower version. I guess it shows how complex food intolerances and medical issues around food and eating are that we all need such different things.