Food Allergies during the Holidays

Food Allergies during the Holidays

The holiday season is upon is.  For most people this means extensive time spent with family and friends, shopping and running errands, and of course eating plenty of delicious food.  Oh the food.  It dominates most of what people do during this time of year.  I believe that our propensity toward food begins at Halloween when candy flows through our neighborhoods and workplaces like a rampant river.  Halloween is closely followed by Thanksgiving a few weeks later – a holiday that celebrates feasting with family and friends.  In fact, we are usually granted 2 days off of work for Thanksgiving – one day to eat the fantastic meal that’s prepared with thanks and grace, and one day to recover from it. After Thanksgiving of course is the entire month of December which is filled with a multitude of holidays and feasting.  The holiday season is indeed a time that focuses on food and the pure pleasure of eating.

But although a majority of people look forward to this time of year as a way to indulge in things they don’t normally eat, for someone suffering from food allergies or sensitivities it can be a very stressful time of year apart from the usual holiday tension.  People with food allergies can feel stranded or out of place when they find themselves in groups of people who don’t share their dietary restrictions.  It’s hard to have a thanksgiving dinner that is completely gluten-free when rolls, flour thickened gravy, and stuffing dominate the scene.  Fortunately though, general communities are becoming aware of food allergies and sensitivities, and more effort is made to help increase food options for those who have special restrictions.  But if you are nervous about this holiday season and concerned about people’s reactions to your food restrictions and special needs, here are a few tips to help you get through this seemingly challenging time with ease.

Host Gatherings at Your House

While the stress of having multiple people over for a feast during the holidays can seem like a heavy burden, it is sometimes less stressful than having to go over to someone else’s house and explain your dietary needs to others.  Not everyone understands what it means to be gluten-free, dairy free, or even vegetarian for that matter, and it can make for an awkward situation for some that have difficulty expressing the severity of their condition without feeling like they are adding burden for the host/hostess.  By hosting dinner events in your own residence, you have the freedom to prepare foods that you can eat, thereby increasing the number of options for yourself.  It is also a great way to showcase those gluten-free rolls or egg/dairy free desserts you have perfected over the last few months or years.  And usually most people don’t even notice that the foods they are eating are allergen free, which makes it a win-win situation for all.

Offer to Help With Food Preparation

If you can’t host dinner events at your house, offer to make food to bring or to help out in the kitchen.  For example, if you are gluten-free, offer to make some gluten-free rolls or stuffing to bring to dinner for everyone to eat.  That way, you are helping in bringing more food and you are increasing the amount of food that you and your family can eat.  Also, if you have severe food allergies, such as some people have with gluten, you can offer to help out directly in the kitchen to make sure there is no accidental contamination in certain foods that are generally considered allergen free.

Educate Others!

This is an excellent time to educate others about food allergies and sensitivities, don’t be afraid to speak out!  Many people who have food allergies or sensitivities have a marked improvement in their health once they stop eating those foods.  Those who don’t have (or don’t know they have) food allergies/sensitivities are sometimes uncomfortable around those with restricted diets because they don’t know enough about what it is like.  By opening up and sharing your experiences, you can help others understand and be more comfortable around dealing with food sensitivities or allergies, or perhaps to get themselves tested so they can start feeling better.  Share your favorite allergen-free recipes with friends and family when you get together – you’ll be surprised how many of them will be excited to expand into new cooking territories.

Work With Your Doctor

If the holidays are really difficult for you when food is involved, seek help from your doctor.  Naturopathic doctors are great resources for herbs and supplements that can help minimize your reaction to eating certain foods that you are allergic or sensitive too.  Sometimes we can’t always control what goes into the food we eat, but there are ways to help you feel better faster if you do get exposed to foods you want to avoid.

If you have experience with food allergies during the holiday, share your stories or your favorite holiday recipes in the comment section of our blog.

If you have food allergies or sensitivities and would like more information about how to manage your symptoms, schedule a free 10 minute consultation with one of our naturopathic doctors today!

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