3 Tips for Avoiding Food Sensitivities Over the Holidays
To make the most of your holiday eating experience, we’ve got three tips to help you get through it. You are going to want to plan ahead, be authentic and communicate your needs, and prepare for the potential for problems, regardless of how well you plan ahead and speak your truth.
1-Plan Ahead to Avoid Problem Foods
The top tip for navigating food sensitivities at parties and gatherings is to plan ahead. We recognize that you may not always have the ability to choose what will be served at a party. However, if you find yourself in a position to influence the menu, assert your opinions and let them be known.
For example, if the fam is considering Italian catering and gluten and dairy leave you bloated and blocked up, try to steer them in another direction. Another way to diplomatically influence what makes it to the table is to offer to bring the main dish yourself, which will, of course, not contain any ingredients that would make your good old-fashioned family Christmas anything less than jolly. If you go for this option, make sure that whatever you need will be sufficient enough to sustain you in the event that it is the only thing on the table you can eat.
2- Be Authentic and Speak Your Truth
When you first learn of your food sensitivities and have to find a way to communicate your needs to others, it can be intimidating. You may not be sure if you are going to get the support you are seeking or may be anxious about someone brushing off your needs as unimportant.
Here’s the thing, though. You know that if you eat the foods that flare up your symptoms, you are going to feel bad physically. But there is a mental component here that is equally important. Think about how anxious you will feel if you don’t know what you are eating or what options will be available to you, if any. This triggers a stress cycle that can be just as harmful to your health.
Be authentic and stay true to who you are. You are entitled to have your very real needs met so be real. Speak your truth and honor your decisions to put your health and well-being high on the priority list. But don’t drop it into someone’s lap at the last minute. The last thing you want is to hurt Nana’s feelings or stress her out over how she’s going to feed her beloved granddaughter.
Call the host well in advance and explain what you are doing to meet some specific goals and to avoid feeling unwell. Let them know that you are working on your health and that it’s important for your well-being. You may be surprised by how supportive and open others will be when you speak your truth.
Focus on choice if you expect the conversation to be uncomfortable. If you think you may be judged, avoid phrasing things in a way that may trigger resistance. Rather than saying you “can’t” eat something, tell the host that you are “choosing” to avoid certain foods or ingredients in an effort to be the healthiest, happiest version of you.
And get this? You may find that someone else in the group has similar food sensitivities, as so many of them are ubiquitous, and your ability to be authentic could positively influence the journey of that other person. Sometimes finding your own voice is exactly what someone else needs to find their own.
3- Prepare Yourself for the Worst Case Scenario
Despite your very best efforts in planning and communication, you may sit down at the table and see an array of all your food sensitivities staring back at you from the plate. Of course, this can be distressing! You put in the effort ahead of time and thought you were going to be supported. Before you get wound up into a cycle of anxiety, take a deep breath and let that shit go.
No, really. Let.It.Go. Chances are you have been living with your food sensitivities for quite some time. You are all too familiar with the effects they have on your body, mood, and sense of well-being. You’ve been to this particular party many times before, and although you’d rather not feel like crap, you also know that you can handle it.
Eat the food, because it’s not like you can sit there and starve yourself, and deal with the fallout. You will feel bad for a few days and it’s going to suck. But, like the madness of the holiday season itself, this too shall pass. The silver lining here is that you gain wisdom and experience for the next time around. And you know there will definitely be a next time.
Navigating Food Sensitivities in the Real