Thanks for dropping in today to see what’s on my mind! This week, I’m dwelling on maximizing holidays, both the food and the joy of the holiday itself. So far I’ve touched on using the whole turkey and ALL of the leftovers. Today I want to veer back to health. With a marvelous Thanksgiving holiday last week, I’d love to share what I learned about enjoying holidays with dietary restrictions. Going without rich, decadent food when everyone else is eating it can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be! If we let ourselves get down over silly food, the holidays turn downright miserable. Do you know who is responsible for an enjoyable holiday season? You are! Let’s chat about how to embrace dietary restrictions over the holidays and have your best holiday season yet.
Bring Your Own Dishes
No one wants to arrive to a holiday meal only to find there’s nothing on the table that fits their diet. Check with the host ahead of time and ask if you may bring a couple dishes to the gathering.
Do your research ahead of time so you can offer specific suggestions that will create a well-rounded meal for you. For example, the main meat is likely ok for most diets, so bring a vegetable side and a dessert. That way you can heap your plate with meat, your vegetables, and hopefully there will be one more dish to round out your plate. When dessert time comes, you have an acceptable dish to enjoy right along with everyone else!
Your belly is full, and you will be less likely to cheat with food outside your diet. Everyone else sees your full plate and participation during dessert so they don’t feel bad for enjoying their meal either! Win win!
Focus on People, Not Food
I’ve read this suggestion over and over out there in dietary-restriction-world. Holiday gatherings are about getting together with loved ones. Focus on them, not the food.
On the one hand, holiday gatherings ARE somewhat about the food! Who doesn’t like to enjoy a decadent, indulgent meal with family and friends? (See note above so you can!)
However, fixating on food is not healthy for anyone. Now might be a good time to evaluate your relationship with food. Consider the possibility that you are placing food higher on your priority list than family and friends. This might be very hard. I get it, but when you boil it down, the people you talk to over Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter dinner are far more important than the food on (or not on) your plate.
Accept Help Cooking
An AIP or Paleo holiday meal is hard work. Hours and hours of cooking will go into your holiday meal, so if someone offers to help. Let them!
If no one offers, delegate anyway! Some people do not intuitively see a need and try to fill it, but if you make a need known, most people are happy to help.
For any gathering hosted at my house, my husband and I divide the cooking duties. He handles the main course on the grill, and I make the sides using the stove/oven. I try to make any desserts the day before so there’s no added stress for an after dinner treat.
Educate When Asked
If you aren’t the host of your holiday gathering, and your host is trying to accommodate your dietary restrictions, give them all the education you can! Offer tips, recipes, ingredients, or anything that they are looking for help on. When offering help, use the easiest way, not the craziest America’s Test Kitchen recipe but more along the lines of Rachel Ray 30 minute meals!
Learning how to embrace dietary restrictions over the holidays will lead to a more satisfying and joyful gathering for you and all your loved ones. Doesn’t everyone want a gathering filled with laughter and good memories? Take the focus off what you can’t have by applying these four tips and bring joy back to your holiday gatherings!
***Check out these other Thanksgiving themed posts!***