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Managing dietary restrictions during the holiday season can be quite a challenge. Especially when those restrictions cause you to feel like the odd man out at holiday gatherings. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are various ways you can respect your health while enjoying special holiday traditions with family. Here’s how.

Prioritize Your Dietary Restrictions

Be vocal about your dietary restrictions in advance. Let family, friends, and co-workers know what special requirements are necessary for you to enjoy meals and treats at gatherings. And, don’t just focus on all of the foods you CAN’T eat. Make it a point to mention the foods and dishes that you CAN eat. This can be helpful when it comes to planning the menu or picking out places to eat. Once people know that there are specific dietary restrictions they need to keep in mind, they can plan and prepare ahead of time. Meaning you won’t have to feel left out or unable to participate. 

discuss your dietary restrictions with friends and family in advance

Don’t Wait, Plan Ahead

You won’t always be in a position to provide advance notice regarding your dietary restrictions. This can happen at informal parties or last-minute get-togethers. If that’s the case make sure you eat a well-balanced meal prior to the event. This ensures that if there is nothing you can eat or consume at the gathering you won’t be hungry and can graze on foods that you can eat.

For potlucks and gatherings with friends, you can always volunteer to bring side dishes and snacks that fall in line with your diet. If you’re not able to consume alcohol, you may also volunteer to bring non-alcoholic beverages. Or, you can find a festive non-alcoholic “mocktail” beverage that you can make and share. This can be a fun and tasty way to introduce your friends and family to something new and share a little bit of yourself in the process. 

create dishes that fall in line with dietary restrictions

Take Responsibility for Yourself

We all know that one person that just won’t accept your dietary restrictions and will try to push you to eat or drink something off-limits. But, don’t allow this type of peer pressure, shaming or bullying to make you do something you don’t want to. You are the only one that has the right to determine what’s ok and what’s not ok for you to eat. Chances are if you eat a trigger food that causes a nasty flare-up or leads to painful symptoms that person isn’t going to feel the pain and discomfort, but YOU will. Remember that and hold fast to your boundaries. 

Additionally, you may want to have a little emergency kit prepared in case you unintentionally eat food that doesn’t agree with you. Prepare a small easy to access bag full of essentials such as antacids, anti-diarrheal medication, prescription medications, ginger chews, or whatever little supplies you might need. In the event that you feel a flare-up coming or symptoms become unbearable to have an exit strategy prepared. This could mean having someone you trust to take you home or if traveling would make your symptoms worse finding a quiet, dark place close to a low-traffic bathroom so you can manage your symptoms in peace. 

respect your body when it comes to dietary restrictions

You Get the Final Say

The main idea that I hope you take away from this blog is that just because you have a chronic illness with dietary restrictions doesn’t mean you’re unable to enjoy holiday gatherings. Communicating with your family and friends regarding your condition and your dietary needs should be your first step. If they aren’t able to accommodate your needs it’s ok. You can always plan to eat a meal that works with your diet beforehand and focus on spending quality time with the family minus the big feast. If your family and friends want to work with you to create a holiday experience you can enjoy suggest alternative dishes you can eat. And, praise them for their willingness to respect and honor your needs. Instead of allowing others to bully you into eating foods that you’re unable to consume, establish firm boundaries. Let your yes be yes and your no be NO

Furthermore, you can do all the right things and still have a flare-up or still have to deal with unpleasant symptoms. Keeping an emergency bag with you at all times can help make these unpleasant situations more tolerable. Thus giving you the attention and care that you need. At the end of the day, you get the final say regarding your dietary restrictions. No one but YOU will have to deal with the consequences that come with consuming foods that trigger flare-ups or aggravate symptoms. What are some ways you’re planning to enjoy holiday meals? Leave your tips and suggestions in the comments below. 

About the Author

women's health and wellness blogger: picture of me Kat an african american woman with black mid length curly hair standing outside on a sunny day smiling wearing a black sweater, purple scarf, and flare leg jeansHi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator.  My personal struggle with infertility, endometriosis and ovarian cysts made me realize that there just isn’t enough information out there available to women to help them learn more about  PCOS, endometriosis, adenomyosis, or fibroids. Basically there’s a serious lack of information concerning a variety of women’s health topics and issues and well I got fed up. I decided to be the change and created this blog in an effort to spread awareness and advocate for women’s health issues. It has now become my passion to educate and empower women to redefine their health and be their own advocate. You can find me on  YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!


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