Meat, dairy, breads and desserts; the four elements that make up most traditional, American holiday feasts. My table normally consists of ham and turkey, several corn, green bean and sweet potato casseroles (that often include eggs, cream or butter- maybe all three), potatoes, tossed salads and balsamic glazed Brussel sprouts, crescent rolls and then a separate table just for post-feast sweets. So, you’re sitting there at the table with your entire family and maybe you can’t eat the main attraction because you are vegetarian or vegan. Or maybe the dairy in half of the dishes will turn your stomach inside out. Or maybe the gluten is just waiting in the stuffing to come and get you. Or maybe the sugar in those brownies will ruin your skin overnight. You have some restrictions, and that’s fine. Whether you cannot eat certain foods due to allergies, sensitivities or just personal preference, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holiday feasting with food restrictions. 

Here are some ways to make sure you and your loved ones with food restrictions can still enjoy the holidays:

 

There is a replacement for everything.

Nowadays there are countless companies that make gluten-free bread and pasta, vegan meats and cheeses, dairy-free creams and milks, low-sugar batters, etc. This just takes some trial and error. This past Thanksgiving I made a Gardein Meatless Holiday Roast and it tasted like real turkey. My cousin made brownies with no-sugar and an egg-replacement from just a quick Google search. Health is a business and people make a living off of blogging recipes for just this occasion. So do some research and try it out.

 

Accept it and be open

If you are allergic to half of the menu and you see the rest of your family enjoying the food without a care, then that can get annoying. But remember that your health is a priority, and your body is begging you to expand your pallet. Prepare before the day of. Find new recipes. You might surprise yourself and like whatever you make more! Keep your eye on the prize, whether that be weight loss, better skin, or just not getting sick.

 

Ask for help

I don’t care what anyone says- you can still enjoy food no matter what restrictions you have. Vegans do not have to only eat salads, sugar-free does not mean bland and people with gluten intolerance can still enjoy traditional dishes. Ask for help from family members, friends and other people in the community who have the same restrictions. It can be hard to change your diet alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to resign to a life of dull foods. 

By Stephanie Cornwell