As a growing number of folks are, by choice or necessity, becoming more aware of the effect food has on the body, there’s a growing number of people who may be on dietary requirements to maintain health. But with the temptation of the holidays, it can be a challenge to maintain restrictions. So how do we manage this while still feeling like we’re in on the fun and not missing out on traditions? Here’s 11 ideas to help out this holiday season.
Plan the festivities, contact the host or office party planner and inform them of your restrictions. That way you can be assured that there is food you can eat without risk. If you are unsure of ingredients and trace amount of a substance can cause a reaction for you, then politely decline and try something else.
DON’T arrive hungry. You are less likely to be tempted if you are not hungry.
Don’t fill up on snacks and appetizers--save your calories for the meal. Try not to sit near tempting offerings like chocolate or cookies.
Bring food you can eat. Anyone who has successfully adapted to special diets has figured out how to make food that is both healthy and delicious. Bring something that fits the theme and would be interesting for your friends to discover. Like deviled eggs for keto, a quinoa dish for gluten-free or even guacamole for vegans (with Beanito’s, tortilla chips made from beans, not corn). Don’t forget to bring condiments that fit your needs, such as a salad dressing, dip, or ketchup with ingredients you can eat.
Fill up on a healthy food choice first. Raw or cooked vegetables and fruit, for example. Cheese and charcuterie are good if they are in your plan and good quality. Filling up a bit of veg or enjoying a healthy soup, something with fiber and fat, might help you eat smaller portions during the main meal.
Moderate your starch & sugar intake. Potatoes, bread, yams, cookies, and pie are all tempting treats, but the first bite is the best. The dopamine response from sugar is more intense from the first couple of bites. So instead of denying yourself, have a bit, depending on what restriction you are dealing with and for what reason. Obviously, if you are gluten free because you are addressing Celiac disease,or have a true food allergy, avoid those foods entirely.
Use portion control. No matter what you are eating, there is a limit for what you should take in. Target calories can vary but most folks have a 2000 calories ceiling.
Moderate your alcohol intake and make sure your mixers aren’t worse than the alcohol. Remember that alcohol reduces the ability to make good decisions, making unhealthy foods seem like a good idea. If you are sensitive to sulfites, try an organic wine, they are lower in both sulfites and pesticide residues. Organic wines like Frey Vineyards are a good choice.
Keep well hydrated. Hydration always is important, but even more so in times of stress (even good stress, like holiday fun). Choose low calorie beverages that don’t have caffeine (or add water to compensate).
Supplementation. There are some botanical and nutrient tricks that you can use to make the holiday feasts easier to take. Here are a few:
Enzymes. Enzymes are versatile digestive aids that help you digest foods. Lipase helps digest fats, lactose helps for dairy and Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (DPP IV) helps break down gluten. No enzyme will stop an allergy, but if you indulge a little, these will help reduce negative side effects.
Magnesium. Many liver enzymes that break down fat and detox alcohol use magnesium as a co-factor. Keeping your magnesium levels up will keep things working better. A good B-vitamin will give you an ongoing edge for processing alcohol, sugar, and fat.
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL). Using the demulcent power of licorice to coat and soothe the irritated lining of the esophagus and stomach. Essentially, think of these chewable wafers as natural Tums. You can even take them before spicy or rich foods if needed.
PGX Fiber. Glucomannan or konjac is a fiber supplement from a south Asian tuber that is LOADED with fiber that binds up sugars in the digestive tract. We made it a pill. Use PGX to slow down the impact of sugar and increase bowel motility.
This might be the most important, if you do over indulge, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just get back on track tomorrow and use the slip as a motivation to do better.
Make a theme of it, especially if this is your first holiday season with dietary restrictions. There are hundreds of recipes online for cookies and treats, such as Keto, FODMAP, Gluten Free, or Vegan. As there are lots of options out there, if you need more guidance, we at World Tree are always here to help answer any questions.