December 10, 2014

What To Do During the Holidays when on a Special Diet

As the holidays crawl nearer {yes, crawl} most of us have parties to attend. Whether it is a party with friends, coworkers, family, or as a plus one...there's always some sort of a party people go to. Plus, if you are not hosting it is even more fun to enjoy the festivities. Just saying.

But what do you do when you are on a special diet? I am not talking about the constant diet most of us are on to lose a few pounds here and there so we fit back into our favorite jeans or the bikini we want to wear on an upcoming trip. I am talking about a constant diet more people have to live on because they are allergic to certain ingredients, or of course, the diet people believe in is the best and healthiest. I am allergic to gluten, and slightly tend to even have issues with contamination but my doctor said I should not worry yet {oh, thank you}. I know people who are allergic to nuts, diary, citric acid {which I think is worse than gluten}, or just allergic to certain fruits or other stuff. The list goes on. What do you do then? Unless you are lucky enough to have open-minded family or friends, or your friends and family are allergic as well {ha, that would be nice} attending a holiday party can be dreadful. If you are the host and you know you will have guests over who have allergies or require dietary restrictions...well, it's pretty much as dreadful, but it's all doable.

Here's a few tips I found over time that will help both sides to overcome the dreadful thought to disappoint anyone with or without an allergy or dietary preference:

When you are the host

- be direct and ask your friends about any allergies or preferences when you sent the invite; after all it's your party and you want to be a successful host pleasing friends and not making them sick and ruin the experience. Plus, with all this holiday craziness it's easy to forget to mention it. So, ask away in order to plan ahead and have fun hosting your holiday party.

- if your guests offer to help you with dishes or ask if they can prepare a dish that's specifically gluten free for example, by all means, accept that offer. Who wouldn't want help. 

- keep it simple. If it's your friends they will already love what you are going to offer them. They will eat what will be on those plates and in those pitchers {unless you are like me having no pitchers but the wine bottles ready!}. Don't overdo it. Don't go overboard by pleasing everyone by creating two kinds of the same dishes but with different pasta {gluten free and regular pasta}. Just make one. It will get eaten.

- ask for help. If you can't do it all or feel you are at a loss, ask your friends to help you out. It never hurts to ask is what most people live by, so when it comes to making a holiday party as fun and as eventful as ever, just ask and don't get too stressed. You won't be grated.

When you are the guest

- be direct and let the host know that you have an allergy. I am sure that if the host is your friend she/he already knows, but if it's another party don't hesitate too long to let them know. It's worse when you refuse food on the day of the party. It's kind of an insult.

- offer to help or bring a dish or two, and explain to the host why you would like to help out. Don't just show up with a dish in your hand {unless it's a potluck of course}. Help is always appreciated. When it comes to special ingredients, dietary preferences etc the host is not familiar with it's easier to bring/make something you know will work. Takes the pressure off the host. Trust me.

- if there's food or drinks you cannot have at a party, and you weren't as fortunate to help or bring something and no one considered your allergy {this sadly happens all the time} be a good sport. Don't frown, don't be upset {even though you will be} but instead go with the flow. Don't eat what you shouldn't but eat what you can. If the carrot and celery sticks are the only things you can eat, do so. Politely say no to anything else offered to you, drink the drinks you can and don't hesitate to ask what's in something. I mean, it's what it is. No one wants to be rushed to the ER because of a nut allergy or something else upsetting your body. So, be a good sport.

- bring back up. I always have a Kind Bar with me when I go somewhere, or a tangerine. They easily fit into any purse and allow me to feel full, get the nutrients I need and won't upset my body at all. Don't eat those items in front of your host but if you really cannot help and can't find anything that fits your special diet, then sneak in a bite or two in the bathroom {if you really really have to} or quickly go out to the car and eat it.

I have had my own share of awkwardness when it came to hosting parties or attending parties. I had to sneak in a fruit bar one time because I knew the hostess didn't care about anyone who had allergies. It's also hard for Swiss people to change their habits, or think ahead. Don't want to point fingers but I have great friends who do remember but I remember last summer I was invited to my friend's place for dinner and of course she forgot I couldn't have "normal" spaghetti. It's a mistake, and I was okay with her forgetting it all but it's been tough. Luckily she had wine. Just saying. :)

I will be possibly attending two parties this weekend {one for sure} and it won't be easy. One will be a bowling party and we all know that bowling alleys NEVER have healthy food. If you know of a place that does please let me know but all I know is bowling places have fried stuff and that jazz. Not for me. Not even a hot dog would be okay, sadly. So wish me luck. It'll be a fantastic weekend I know but it will be a tad bit difficult for me to fill my hungry gut. Fingers crossed.

Any fun plans for this weekend?
Do you have allergies or prefer a certain diet and have come across some difficulties? Fill us in.

Happy Holidays, whether you have an allergy or are on a special diet. Enjoy it to the fullest and don't overeat. ;)


image via a family feast
buffet image via better home and garden
wine image via people


Joey said...

These are such great tips! It's so complicated now with everyone having such dietary restrictions--but these tips really make things a lot easier! Thanks for sharing!

Sam M said...

I have three parties this weekend, starting today and I know it's going to be SO hard to avoid carbs and sugar. Blasted Dr. ordered diets. I will go off of it for the right event, as I'm lucky enough to not actually be allergic, it just helps ease my lyme disease.

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

Great tips! I have been able to manage well enough when hosting a dinner, but my family will be staying over during Christmas week for the first time since I was diagnosed with celiac, and I am a little concerned about balancing good food, prep time and budget. I could make my food for everyone, but that would be really expensive, because my dad eats A LOT. I mean, a pan of coconut flour brownies lasts us a whole wee, but with them here it would be gone in 1 day (just to make an example.)

Honestly the thing I enjoyed the most about your post is the remainder that I am not alone in having this challenge, there are others dealing with the same things! That lifts my spirits so much, and gets me back to my "no big deal", non-holiday season self ;-)

So thank you!

Christina said...

This time of year has been tough with the no sweets thing I'm doing! But that's a will power thing. :) And sweets are easy to refuse. My nephew has celiac disease. My sister brings his own meals and snacks everywhere he goes because even though people think they're being helpful and preparing gluten-free dishes, they aren't always 100% gluten free. He has severe reactions to contamination. At least his mom is looking out for him for the time being. I feel bad for adults who never know. Great tips!

Krysten Quiles said...

I know when planning my wedding I had to be careful about friends with special food needs. One is a vegan and the other has a ton of food allergies, including gluten. I basically just included them in the food portion to make sure there would be things for them to eat.


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