Eating Around Dietary Restrictions During the Holidays

When people think of the holidays, three things often come to mind: family, blessings, and food.

For some, the holidays are an opportunity to relax and indulge in homemade meals, but for those with dietary restrictions, the holidays can create stress.

Rather than showing up to a family gathering on an empty stomach, ready for not one but two loaded plates of everything on the menu, people with dietary restrictions may dwell on the upcoming holiday, worried that what is offered may make them sick or cause them to stall on shedding those last few pounds.

The good news is that people with dietary restrictions can eat good, too.

One thing to consider is bringing a dish or two of your own.

Whether or not it’s meant to be shared, your own special dish will ensure that you do have something yummy to eat that won’t leave you battling an upset stomach or guilty conscience.

Plus, if it is for sharing, it’s likely that no one will even taste a difference in recipe.

If you decide against bringing your own dish, or you’re just a bad cook and don’t want to risk burning down your kitchen, you can still adhere to your diet by choosing to eat the foods that are best for you first.

If you’re vegan or dairy-free, it’s not recommended that you head straight to the milk-laced, butter-loaded mashed potatoes.

Opt for steamed vegetables instead.

While you may get off to a good start, no one is perfect, and you may find yourself slipping. If you find that you just can’t resist those mashed potatoes, take a small portion.

If your dietary restrictions directly relate to your health and wellbeing, consider your limits and don’t overdo it.

If your restrictions are in place for weight loss or personal preference, consider your comfort levels and whether indulging in “forbidden” foods are worth stalling your progress or lowering your morale.

In the case that your desire takes control, remind yourself that it’s OK to take a break from time to time.

Sticking to a limited diet can be tough, so don’t let the guilt eat at you.

Enjoy yourself and start new with the next meal.

Although your main course will be the biggest strain on your diet, there are other steps you can take along the way to stay on track.

Don’t tempt yourself by sitting near the coffee table with the crystal bowl of chocolates in the center. Munch on nuts or fruit instead.

Food isn’t always the only foe. Beverages can be difficult to manage as well.

When your host brings out the punch, go for the sparkling water, hot tea, black coffee, or Diet Coke instead.

And if the wine and beer begin to make rounds, consider how they may fit into your diet and drink in moderation.

If you find yourself without those flavorful options, water will always be your friend.

You don’t have to let dietary restrictions ruin your holidays.

So, relax and take care of yourself.

Your body (and conscience) will thank you later.


Recipe Substitutions

Gluten Free
Brown,white or wild rice for rice casserole
Gluten-free noodles for macaroni and cheese
Cornstarch for turkey gravy
Gluten-free biscuits for dumplings
Coconut flour for cookies

Dairy Free
Zucchini cheese for macaroni and cheese and casseroles
Almond milk and full-fat coconut milk for mashed potatoes
Almond milk for creamed soups in casseroles
Plant-based butter for dairy butter
Almond or coconut milk for ice cream

Vegetarian or /Vegan
Vegetable broth for dressing
Tofu for turkey
Soy, almond, or cashew milk for biscuits and other breads
Plant-based butter for dairy butter
Flax egg for cakes and desserts
Dairy-free cream cheese for cheesecake

Low Carb
Cauliflower for mashed potatoes
Zucchini for lasagna noodles
Pork rinds for breadcrumbs
Black soybeans for chili
Almond flour for pie crust


Written by: Leah Morton

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