We have patients ask us constantly, “How do I stay true to my diet plan during the holidays?”
While it can be easy to tell someone how to do something, showing them your own personal struggles and triumphs is often times the best and most effective way to be supportive of their journey. We had our office Christmas party this past week and while we had a blast playing games and exchanging gifts, we also had a potluck lunch. Now, it is no secret that potlucks are always a challenge. This is usually because friends and family don’t prioritize one person's nutritional needs, or let a certain diet affect the family meal as a whole.
It can be hard to eat healthy around the holidays, especially when eating dinner at family and friends' homes. Whether you are simply trying to make better food choices or have food intolerances, saying yes to foods may lead to days or weeks of unwanted symptoms. Saying, "no, thank you," may be a matter of your health and well-being. How can you enter the holiday season, with all of its shared meals, as a kind dinner guest, not to hurt feelings or give in to temptation?
Let Them Know Ahead of Time
Let your host know ahead of time that you have some health-based food restrictions. Be sure to also let them know you are looking forward to their meal. If you have to explain, state if you eat certain foods, they will leave you feeling bad later on. We used this guideline for our own Christmas party. We have some staff members who are dairy intolerant and others who eat a gluten free diet in Springfield Missouri.
Offer to Bring a Dish
Ask your host if there is anything they would like you to bring. Offer to bring a couple of dishes that will meet your health needs that you could also share with others. Try to coordinate your dish with the other foods that are being served. It is likely other guests may have food sensitivities as well, so be sure to prepare foods that are allergen free such as gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free.
Eat a Small Meal Prior
Do not show up to the dinner hungry. This will help to reduce the temptation to overindulge or say a yes when you shouldn't. Filling up on healthy food prior to festivities will make is less tempting to fill up later on things that may make you feel bad.
Bring Your Enzymes
Digestive enzymes can help to prevent some of the symptoms that may result from eating foods that do not agree with you. Take these at the beginning of the meal.
Ask to Label Foods and Ingredients
We incorporated this for our office potluck. Everyone received a recipe card and we asked that they list the ingredients in their dish. This was not only helpful for those watching what they eat and keep an eye on the ingredients, but it was also a fun way to share recipes for all the yummy dishes.
Be Kind and Confident
Be honest, let them know you do not mean to be rude. If you are offered something you are intolerant to, simply say "As much as I'd like to, I am gluten intolerant," for example. This could even spark a conversation about health and diet. Others may find themselves eating healthier due to your honesty. Regardless of other's food issues, possible judgments, or disapproval, be confident. You have the right to eat and feel well. You also know and understand the consequences of making an unhealthy choice, or overindulging- don’t let pressure or temporary cravings undo the progress you’ve made.
Even though your options might be limited, you can still stay true to diet plans in Springfield Missouri during the holidays. Gatherings are the perfect place to educate people and share your own health and wellness story. Check out some photos from the Kare Health and Wellness Christmas Party below!