Healthy Holidays: Managing Food Allergies

standard December 8, 2017 Leave a response

Hosting a large group of people, some of which have very different, and very specific food limitations? Or maybe you have a food allergy, and attending large gatherings and meals is intimidating when others do not understand the nature of the allergy or restriction. Here are a few tips for both sides to navigate and enjoy this season with ease.

Host: Label allergy-friendly foods.

As the host, whether you are making the whole meal or asking guests to potluck, have labels handy for the items that your guests with food allergies can eat. Always make sure to check that the dish is indeed free of the specific allergen, especially if someone else made it.

Guest: Bring a dish.

If you know your host and family will not be able to easily accommodate your allergy, or you are unsure of the offerings available to you, offer to bring a dish. Make it something hearty enough that you can enjoy that one item as your main meal if no other options are present. And while it should be something everyone can enjoy, it is okay to bring your favorite item.

Host: Pay attention to cross-contamination.

Some allergies are severe enough that using the same spatula or cooking surface, which leaves trace elements of foods behind, can be harmful and life-threatening to someone with a food allergy. It can be helpful to color code utensils or baking dishes to ensure that those items are only used on the safe foods being made and served.

Guest: Check In.

Not sure if your Aunt Celeste knows what gluten-free means and she offered to make you a gluten-free dessert? Check in with her before the event, and maybe suggest a few recipes, or get a feel for what she was planning on making. It can be hard to arrive somewhere and find out someone worked extra hard to make something you could enjoy, when in fact, it has an ingredient that isn’t safe. Be polite, but know it is okay to talk with family and friends in advance.

Navigating holiday events with children with food allergies? Make sure both the child and the guests are aware of the allergy. Family members may offer foods to a child without knowing it isn’t safe. Children may grab something that looks safe but has a hidden ingredient in it. Set rules and review them with everyone so that there is less of a chance of a problem.

 

Healthy Holidays: Maintaining Balance at Mealtime

standard November 17, 2017 2 responses

The holiday season is notorious for gorging on rich foods, over eating and binging, and throwing self-control out the window. But does every year have to come with dread over ruining your diet and sidelining those hard-worked goals from the past 10-11 months? It is indeed possible to have balance during the holidays and still enjoy Grandma’s classic cookie recipe.

On any given day, at any given meal, the thought of balancing the types of foods you are eating, as well as the right amount of food, can be challenging. Add in the approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and it is easy to feel like you’ve lost a battle before you’ve even started. Regardless of the day or the occasion, there are some ways to make sure you listen to your body, honor your hunger cues, and still enjoy all those delicious special holiday dishes.

1. Take Inventory.

Before filling your plate, opt for a walk around the room and make a note of what you’d like to indulge in. This way, you don’t load up before you discover that Aunt Sally brought her famous potato casserole and Mom splurged on that cream pie. You can also decide at the beginning which foods you are going to choose. You do not have to eat everything just because it is there. Go for the ones you love, the ones you enjoy, the ones that look interesting. If it’s not your favorite, don’t add it to your plate just because. Really stop and think about which foods you really WANT to add to your meal.

2. Start Small.

When you first fill your plate, take just enough for a taste or small portion of each food. Then you can go back for seconds (either voluntarily or forced by Grandma) without any guilt of ruining your diet. Your total portion will end up being about what you would have taken in the first place. If you have tried a dish you don’t really like, you won’t feel bad leaving it on your plate because there won’t be enough there to make it a big deal. And if you weren’t sure which foods you wanted to start with, you now know which you’d like to enjoy to round out your meal. Just make sure to give yourself about 20 minutes after eating to let your food settle and begin to digest before indulging in a second plate. You may find you don’t really need it.

3. Enjoy It.

It is the holidays, and they only come around once a year, so go ahead and splurge on your favorite treat. Just make sure to do so in moderation. You do not have to try every dessert on the table. Nor do you have to have a heaping portion or finish your plate if you are given a pre-portioned serving. Enjoy the taste and flavor and set it down when you have had your fill.