The Ultimate Guide For Surviving The Holidays With Food Sensitivities
The holidays are coming up. This is a fun and exciting time of year. We all want to enjoy time with our family. But here is something sad and difficult to cope with. With this fun and happy time of year can come dread. Especially if you deal with food issues. Surviving the holidays with food sensitivities can be scary.
I Understand Food Issues During The Holiday Season
Friend, I’ve been there. I still live every day of my life around my food sensitivities. It can feel like living in a bubble. But we do what we need to do to stay safe. I understand food issues during the holiday season. The toll it takes can be huge! However, I have learned several tricks and tips along the way. You can still have fun with your family. And stay safe, in spite of food sensitivities, during the holiday season. It’s possible with careful planning and preparation!
Holidays Revolve Around Food
No matter how you celebrate the holidays, there is one common theme. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Years, Christmas. Even Easter, or the 4th of July! The common theme is our special holiday food. We all love to eat good food. And we enjoy sharing our favorite holiday treats. But what if those holiday treats make you not feel at your best? What if the holiday foods cause digestive or respiratory discomfort for you? The Ultimate Guide For Surviving The Holidays With Food Sensitivities is to give you ideas for coping with your holiday food issues.
Common Questions About Food Issues During The Holidays
What am I going to eat when everyone cooks food that isn’t safe for me or my child? How can I cope with being around foods that cause respiratory or digestive discomfort when everyone brings them around on the holidays? What am I going to say to everyone to help them understand my issues around food? Is it weird to bring my own food for the holiday meal? And you may even find yourself wondering, Should I just stay home because of my food sensitivities?
Food issues can put a really big kink in your holiday plans. I understand! There are a lot of questions to navigate. Next, let’s explore some ideas that may help deal with your holiday food issues.
Make Your Own Food Ahead Of Time For The Holidays
The very easiest way to deal with food sensitivities around the holidays is to make all of your own food ahead of time. This sounds daunting, I know! But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some simple ideas.
- Save leftovers as you go. After a large meal, I put leftovers in the freezer. This stash is handy to grab during the holidays.
- Set aside a day just for food and meal prep.
- Purchase a cooler ahead of time if you don’t have one yet. You will need a way to safely transport your holiday foods.
- Get store bought foods that are safe ahead of time, too. You don’t want to risk the store being out of stock. Or not carrying the brand you need when you get to your destination.
Have A Plan For Safe Foods While Traveling
You’ve worked so hard. Packed up everything, and now you are in the car on the way to your holiday destination. Your cooler is filled because you planned ahead. Great job!
But what about snacks? Safe food is not easy to find while traveling. Be sure to plan for your travel snacks as your are packing. Place the safe snacks within easy reach so you don’t have to stop and waste valuable time during the trip.
Bring Extras So You Don’t Run Out Of Safe Food
This has happened to me so many times. Safe food for food sensitivities are typically the foods everyone loves. I have food sensitivities to soy, food dyes, all preservatives, and more. Almost every bite of food I put in my mouth is homemade. Homemade food is delicious, and most people don’t take the time to make it often unless they need to. We need to, so we don’t think anything of it. Except your safe, healthy homemade food may be a huge treat for someone who doesn’t normally get it. And if you are bringing your food as a dish to share, set some aside for yourself ahead of time. They may completely clean you out before you get any.
Plan For The Unplanned “Extra” Holiday Meal
I found that when I started bringing my own safe food, that was great at lunch. Plenty of food, and my generous heart of course wanted to share my treats with everyone. So I did. Then unplanned, even… we would inevitably stay for supper. Then what happened? Um… I didn’t have any food left. I have had many holidays where I sat there with my stomach growling from hunger because there were no safe foods left for me to eat. Everyone else had eaten my safe food and lunch, and I didn’t bring enough and plan for that. It’s an awful feeling when you are hungry and there are no foods that are safe to eat in the home. And typically… you can’t just run out to buy more. If there is a chance you might not get home as soon as expected, plan for an extra meal.
How To Let The Hostess Know About Food Issues
Unfortunately, food issues are not well understood. Hostesses tend to get hurt feelings when you won’t even try “Just one bite!” of their special holiday dish. She simply does not understand how much you would risk with that single bite. And if she wafts it under your nose (friend, I’ve dealt with it ALL! I get it!) you may even end up with respiratory discomfort from that simple action!
In order to avoid issues, let your hostess know ahead of time that you have food issues and will prepare all of your own food. She will be far less likely to pressure you to eat unsafe food if there is clear communication beforehand. Chances are she loves you very much, but simply does not understand the risks. Do educate her, firmly but kindly, before this issue arises. It will help. And I’ve found that when the hostess is aware, she will often intercede for you when other guests bring special dishes that THEY are pressuring you to eat. Make your hostess a partner in keeping you healthy. It’s worth the embarrassment of the conversation, to just let everyone know you have some issues around the holiday food.
Let the other guests be aware
Something I run into is the need to let the other guests be aware of my food issues. Especially during the holidays. Everyone loves to bake an extra dessert. Or a fun snack. Even prepared food can be problematic when a simple bag of potato chips contains your food triggers!
I understand, you can feel embarrassed. I do, too. It’s hard to ask someone to not bring unsafe foods for you. Or to make those foods with safe ingredients. But people who love you are glad to do what they can to make it possible for you to be at the family gathering! If nothing else, they will be less likely to pressure you to eat an unsafe food during the holiday meal.
Don’t feel obligated to allow the hostess to cook for you if it will put you at risk
I’m sure we have all been in this situation! Someone, so well meaning, wants to cook for us. Except… they don’t understand the extent or severity of our food sensitivities. They have no clue what cross contamination means. Someone unfamiliar with food sensitivity means well, but they don’t take in the enormity of it. That even the pans can be unsafe if previously used for a food we are sensitive to.
Here is your permission if you need it. Do not put your health at risk to avoid someone else’s hurt feelings. You are not obligated to allow someone to cook for you if it will put you at risk.
Have Essential Oils On Hand For Digestive Comfort
Essential oils can help bring digestive comfort to a troubled tummy. If you’ve gone ahead and eaten a holiday food that didn’t agree with you, you might try this. Rub some DigestZen on your belly. Drink some soothing tummy tea. Zendocrine can also help support your body.
Diffuse Soothing Essential Oils For Respiratory Comfort
We also want to keep your respiratory system happy and well supported. Oils such as Breathe, Cypress, Grapefruit, and Lavender should always be in your purse! I find that any of these oils in the diffuser are fantastic during family holiday gatherings. Lemon oil is also powerful!
Should I just stay home because of my food sensitivities?
Here’s the hardest one of all. And friend, if this is you, please understand you are not alone. Sometimes, our hostess just doesn’t understand. Or the other guests refuse to accommodate our needs around food. Don’t put yourself in a situation that is unsafe to try to avoid hurt feelings.
Sometimes, surviving the holidays with food issues means staying home.
Do Not Feel Guilty About Your Food Sensitivities During The Holidays
If someone refuses to understand your very legitimate health concern, that is no longer your issue. It is theirs. If they truly want you to be there, they will accommodate for your legitimate health needs. It is 100% okay to stay home if going to someone’s home for the holidays will put your health, or the health of your child, at risk. I’m giving blanket permission, if you need it. Seriously, I’m sitting here crying as I type this. Because this has been me, over and over. It HURTS our heart to stay home, especially during the holiday season. But take peace in knowing that you are doing your very best. And no one, no one at all, gets to make you feel guilty for taking care of your own health. I suggest that you buy yourself a little treat, for comfort. I’ve been there, too. It’s not worth putting yourself in a situation that is unsafe over a holiday meal. You matter. Come over and chat with me in my Facebook group. Maybe you’d like to talk to a friend that understands. My passion is helping other people through my own experiences. And sometimes, that means sending a virtual hug through my Facebook group.
Emotional Health & Surviving The Holidays With Food Sensitivities
We have all of the physical challenges when we need to survive the holidays with food sensitivities. And then, our emotions run the gamut. We may feel a sense of loss. There is sorrow that things aren’t the way we remember and enjoy. Or we can feel excluded from those who don’t have the same issues we do around food. It can lead to hurt feelings when a friend or family member refuses to accommodate our basic needs.
Sometimes People Won’t Believe You Have Food Issues
At worst, we can be disbelieved that it’s “really” as bad as it is. Then put at risk because they cook those foods anyway. Yes, people actually do stuff like that. It has happened to me, too. One time I sat in someone’s driveway for 3 hours because she cooked popcorn with soybean oil in it, even after I asked her not to. I was stuck as a guest in her home, 10 hours away from my own house. I had no where else to go, and she did not care. It still hurts my heart to this day that she had so little concern for my well being.
I tell you this experience, not out of bitterness. But to share with you that I truly understand the devastation food sensitivities can bring into your life. It is very normal for our emotions to be affected! Your emotional health matters just as much as your physical health. There is a very real sense of loss when you have food issues. And there are feelings of grief to work through. This is a totally normal reaction!
Use Essential Oils To Support Sad Emotions Around Food Issues
I find that I pull out my emotional oils a lot when dealing with hostesses and family members and my food sensitivities. Console and Forgive are especially comforting when I feel sad that I have food sensitivities and cannot enjoy the holidays the same way everyone else does. I diffused Forgive a LOT last year when I stayed home by myself over Christmas while the rest of the family went off to have fun. I’m not going to sugar coat how emotionally painful it is to be left alone on the holidays because of our food issues. And the oils, prayer, journaling, or even reaching out to help someone else, are my go-to actions to comfort my bruised heart. Keep in mind, it isn’t about you, truly. People can be selfish without realizing how much their actions impact you. Forgive oil blend helps me let go of that hurt.
Find Support From Your Friends
Another great thing is to chat with a friend who has similar issues. A friend with similar issues may have some additional ideas to help you cope with food issues during the holidays. Remember I’m here for you! The holiday season be difficult. But with some safety precautions, they can still be fun. I’d be happy to hear how you also deal with food sensitivities around the holidays. Come chat with me in my Facebook group!