RSS Feed

Tag Archives: holidays

Surviving the Holidays with Food Allergies

survive holiday food allergiesHolidays center around gatherings with friends and family. Parties abound and the kitchen is busier than ever. When you have food allergies, holidays bring an extra layer of stress. I have a few tips to help!

1. Bring your own food.

The ONLY way to ensure you know exactly what is going into your body is to prepare the food yourself. Salads are generally safe and it’s easy to tell the ingredients, as long as the dressing is not already added. For dinner parties (pot luck style) I bring a satisfying dish I can eat. And that’s all I eat. Also, I either make sure I’m first in line, or set a plate of my safe food aside to ensure I get the dish I brought!

2. Plan

Planning is the key. Know what is going on during all events. Keep your pantry stocked with foods you can eat, or grab and go. Before we go out of town, I find nearby grocery stores. We often stop before we arrive to stock up on safe foods we didn’t bring.

3. Call ahead

If you want to call ahead to find ingredients, call ahead, but make sure it’s in plenty of time in case the hostess wants to make something you can eat. I always say something along the lines of, “I’m curious about the menu because of food allergies, but don’t want you to go through any extra trouble.” If I find out it’s something I can’t eat, I explain that I’ll probably bring my own food. My allergies are so extensive, I don’t expect anyone to go through the process of learning to cook what I can eat.

4. Eat before you go

If you arrive hungry, it’s tempting to eat something that might cause a reaction. I also find myself grouchy or emotional when I go somewhere hungry only to find I can only eat ONE thing. If I’m not hungry, it doesn’t bother me (as much).

5. For out of town events – cook ahead

I bring a cooler filled with frozen meals that match what my family is eating. That way I’m not as different. I also bring food for the restaurants I know don’t have much I can eat. I eat on the way – in the car – then snack on a salad or a safe menu item while at the restaurant. That takes planning! For unexpected restaurant stops, my husband stops by the grocery store on the way and I bring something safe into the restaurant.  More tips for travelling with food restrictions.

6. Smile through it all

Your attitude makes the difference. When a waiter tells you 99% of the menu is unavailable due to your allergies, be thankful for the 1%. When you are hungry and feel yourself becoming grouchy or emotional, find that inner strength and know food is only a part of the holidays.

Above all, enjoy your time with friends and family.

Merry Christmas!

One New Thing for the Holidays

Candies, cakes, pies, turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows or sugary pecans, fruit salad smothered with whipped cream, more pies, and cookies, oh my. My mouth is watering just thinking back over the week. This is probably the first time EVER that I did not gain weight during Thanksgiving week. I took my own advice and ate just one bite, not one serving. It was also the first time I did not sleep away Thanksgiving afternoon due to allergic reactions.

I also did One New Thing this year while travelling. I scoped out restaurants beforehand. It didn’t take much planning and my family graciously made decisions ahead of time. As soon as I knew where we were going, I checked menus on-line. Knowing my options beforehand made a huge difference. There were times we ate out and I didn’t have a chance to scope places, then I simply ordered a salad. Only one time did the waiter have to ask about substitutions with a manager. I’ve learned to ask for the chicken (or other proteins  to be cooked plain, or to ask for fries without extra seasoning salt. It’s just easier to phrase it that way instead of telling the waiter lists of allergies and asking them what they think. There are too many “hidden” allergens. Many places have meat that is pre-seasoned. I stay ask if they come that way and just order something else. The simple phrases “gluten-free” and “food allergies” capture people’s attention and just about everyone was gracious about helping us with menu items. Whether you are  concerned with food allergies, gluten, or calorie counting, don’t be afraid to just ask! Before you even have to ask, look on-line! With menus posted on-line, it’s easy to count calories or watch for troublesome foods before you even step foot into a restaurant!

While at my sisters, I encountered one tea room that went out of their way to accommodate my gluten-free daughter. They told me that if I call the day before, they will make sure some menu items (since it’s a small establishment without a set menu) are gluten-free or safe from whatever allergies we have. We will make sure to visit that restaurant the next time we are in town! It just takes one question to realize how accommodating establishments are. The gracious ones will receive my business. In the past, I didn’t want to make a fuss, or cause any trouble. Then I would end up sick. Not anymore.

My One New Thing for the Holidays is to scope out restaurants beforehand!

What are your favorite holiday tips?

%d bloggers like this: