While it’s true that navigating food choices at big Thanksgiving feasts and festive celebrations can be extra challenging if you have food sensitivities or allergies, it’s totally possible to enjoy the holiday treats and still feel great afterwards.
When you have a plan in place, you won’t need to worry over this year’s spree of holiday socializing and you’ll be able to fully enjoy the festivities.
1. Know and set your limits ahead of time.
The first step in being prepared is being aware of your personal tolerance to trigger foods. For example, can you have a few bites of something and get away with it, or does a crumb of wheat ruin your day (and potentially your whole week)? Does more than one glass of wine give you a headache or make you bloated or anxious the next day?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself and be honest about it, if you want to feel great throughout the holiday season. When you determine what and how much of a food, drink, or sweet you can handle ahead of time, you’ll create goals that you can stick to without suffering the consequences later on.
2. Bring your own dish.
One of the most foolproof ways to ensure you’ll have something to eat at the event is bringing a safe dish or two with you. Not only is this a nice way to support the host but it also ensures you know you’ll have a few things to pick from that are absolutely food sensitivity-free and can guarantee you won’t have to sit out on the festive feasting. Don’t feel like you need to stick to a bland salad but rather bring something that’s exciting and filled with flavor like some peppers stuffed with your favorite herbs and veggies or sweet potato hash with coconut oil and cinnamon.
3. Stay hydrated.
Water helps to flush the body more efficiently and can also be the key to preventing a hangover if also drinking alcohol at the event. We recommend drinking a glass of water or seltzer between each alcoholic drink to help balance your intake and slow your alcohol consumption.
Even if not indulging in a holiday cocktail, drinking plenty of water can be helpful in the rare case some your crudité was cross-contaminated with one of your trigger foods. Staying hydrated is very important if cross-contamination occurs, especially if you experience diarrhea as a major symptom, and extra fluids will help flush your system well. In addition to drinking regular water, try coconut water or bone broth for electrolytes to further boost hydration and support detoxification.
4. Redefine holiday family traditions.
It’s never too late to start rethinking about how you and your loved ones define your annual holiday traditions. Creating new ways to celebrate that don’t revolve around food such as watching favorite holiday movies, reading a special holiday book, volunteering together, caroling, or making holiday decorations can be a great way to get in the holiday spirit without the focus on holiday treats.
If you have special recipes that are ingrained in your family’s holiday traditions, think about ways you can recreate treats like your Grandma’s famous apple pie to make it allergen-free for you. Can you swap out the wheat flour for almond or coconut flour or replace an egg with unsweetened applesauce or gelatin? With so many online resources to help guide your new recipe creation and allow for replacements of things that may no longer work for you, recreating your family recipes has never been more accessible and enjoyable.
5. Have an “emergency” gut-supportive supplement on hand.
Talk to your doctor about what you should keep accessible for accidental food trigger exposure. Your doctor can suggest specific digestive enzymes that can assist you in breaking down harder-to-digest proteins and binders such as activated charcoal that help to rid the body of unwanted substances more efficiently. Additionally, taking probiotics, digestive bitters, or ginger tablets can also help promote quicker movement through your system if you start to experience a bit of nausea, bloating, or gas. Always be sure to ask your physician about the ideal brands, dosage, and variety that will be the best for you.
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