Monday was Thanksgiving here in Canada and I spent the day with friends, just hanging out, enjoying the surprisingly good weather and, of course, eating. I usually get a little worried when attending potluck type events because of my dairy free food restrictions. However, I’m not the only one in this group of friends with food restrictions, so coordinating everything was a little easier than normal.
But, as we all know, Thanksgiving is just the beginning. There are still a lot of food-centric holiday parties to come over the next few months and they won’t all be as easy as this one. Holiday food can be a little hard to navigate with food restrictions and allergies. But, I’ve learned that there are a few things people on both sides of the spectrum can do to ensure that events involving food go smoothly for everyone. So today, I wanted to talk about dealing with dietary restrictions during the holiday season, while sharing some eats from Monday’s Thanksgiving celebration.
1. Explain your restrictions (Guest)
Since not everyone will know what foods you can and cannot eat, sharing your restrictions is always a good idea. When I first started eating dairy free, I was a little nervous about doing this because I felt like I was imposing on my host. But, then I thought about it from the host’s point of view. I definitely wouldn’t find it a problem to provide some alternatives for friends with food restrictions, so I shouldn’t automatically assume others would have a problem doing the same for me. You never know until you ask right?
2. Bring a dish (Guest)
The best way to ensure you don’t eat something you can’t, is to carry a dish yourself. Not, only will you be sure that there’s at least one thing at the party that you can safely eat, but your host will probably thank you as well. Hosting an event is definitely stressful enough for them, without having to try to make something totally out of their comfort zone and have it taste good. So, it’s probably a good idea to just walk with something.
3. Eat before you go (Guest)
If all else fails, eat before you go out. The holidays should be about having fun with friends and family more than anything else. So if there’s no way to ensure that you’ll find food at the event that meets your needs, just grab something before you go. That way you won’t have to worry for days on end about what you’ll eat when you get there. And, you won’t end up starving when it turns out that there’s nothing suitable.
4. Be accommodating, within reason (Host)
If you don’t want to put the time and energy into figuring out every little thing everyone can and can’t eat that’s totally understandable. But, providing some alternatives, at least for some of the more popular food restrictions and allergies, might be a good idea. I’d recommend having some veggie only dishes for vegetarians and vegans and some nut and gluten free stuff for the more popular allergies. There’s no need to go all out, but coverings the basics can’t hurt right?
5. Explain what’s in the food (Host)
When I eat food that I haven’t cooked myself, my first question is always “What’s in this?”. But, asking that question over and over can get old pretty fast, especially when in a new situations or with new people. A really easy way to avoid this discomfort in your guests is to explain exactly what went into making each dish so they can determine what they can and cannot eat. It doesn’t take a lot of time and goes a long way to avoid guests getting ill from eating something they shouldn’t have.
What about you?
- Do you have any dietary restrictions?
- How do you deal with them at holiday parties or regular events involving food?
Share in the comments below!
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This article was originally posted in December 2014