Christmas is known as a time to eat, drink and be merry - but if you have a food intolerance, this time of year can be anything but joyful.
If you suffer from gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance or any other kind of food sensitivity, planning ahead for the festive season can feel like a bit of a chore.
Letting family members know what you can and can’t eat in advance can leave you feeling like the fussy 5-year-old at the dinner table when in reality, intolerances need to be taken seriously and they’re not at all your fault - the physical side effects, as well as feelings of embarrassment are very real, and very difficult to deal with.
In this guide, we’re going to explore some simple, effective ways in which you can navigate the festive season when you suffer from food intolerances.
We want to help you to make this time of year as stress-free as possible, but the good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to have a very Merry Christmas. Read on to find out what they are.
1. Let hosts know about your dietary requirements in advance
The current situation in regard to Cornavirus and the UK restrictions in some ways makes things easier for food intolerances - in that any gathering you go to this Christmas will be small and made up of your closest family members who already know about your intolerance.
However in general, when you go to a party or a gathering, let the host know about your dietary requirements before you go.
Stress in itself can cause a flare-up of symptoms, and going somewhere without knowing whether you’ll be catered for or not is a stressful experience.
No good host is going to want to see a guest go hungry - so it’s better to speak up beforehand. If they don’t know about your food intolerance, they won’t necessarily think to provide for it.
If you find it awkward talking about your food intolerance to people in person, this gives you a good opportunity to send the host a quick message beforehand explaining your situation.
If you don’t know the host personally, make sure you have someone who can act as an advocate for you and let them know.
Depending on the kind of gathering, you could offer to bring a dish. This should lessen some of the anxiety you may have around having to rely on others to remember your food intolerance when considering party food and dishes to serve.
As a last resort, if you’re worried about eating, you could eat at home before you go to the event or consider bringing some small snacks along with you that you know your body can tolerate. This might seem rude at first but it’s easy to explain if anyone should ask.
2. Never feel embarrassed about putting your health first
If you suffer from gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, or any other kind of food intolerance, we’re sure you’ve been in a situation before where you felt awkward, embarrassed or uncomfortable because of it.
It’s important to remember that your health comes first - and it’s never worth making yourself ill or suffering discomfort just to be polite. (I’d remove the bit after or, I don’t think it’s necessary, “just to be polite” is enough)
You shouldn’t have to feel like an annoyance of burden because of something that is outside of your control.
Lactose intolerance is extremely common - it’s estimated that 65% of the entire world population is unable to digest lactose after infancy and although there have been fewer studies on gluten intolerance, it’s estimated that 0.5-6% of the worldwide population suffer from gluten intolerance too.
Remember that the more people talk about their gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance and other food intolerances, the more normalised they will become amongst the wider public - which can only be a good thing.
3. Know your limits
You know your body better than anyone else. And with some food intolerances, it’s possible that at times, you find you can tolerate small amounts of the food and not suffer from symptoms such as cramping, gas, cramping, bloating, stomach pain or diarrhoea.
It can be tempting, especially at Christmas, to think “Oh, what the hell” and to overindulge. However, you’ll likely know from experience that these moments are rarely worth it in the long-run.
Over-indulging in trigger foods can have painful repercussions that last for hours or even days afterwards, so it’s important to know your limits and try to stick to them.
4. Consider taking an enzyme to help with your intolerance
One of the best ways to treat food intolerances during the festive season is to put preventative measures in place to protect yourself before the festivities begin.
If you suffer from gluten intolerance or coeliac disease, you’ll know just how hard it is to completely avoid gluten in your everyday life, even on a gluten-free diet.
For this, we would highly recommend one of our best-selling products for gluten intolerance - GlutenShield.
Gluten Shield has been developed by a Leeds-based company called One Nutrition, who develop health supplements in response to the growing number of individuals with food and chemical sensitivities.
These brilliant tablets should be taken before a meal and are easily-tolerated as they’re free of toxins, chemicals and fragrances.
They work to remove excess gluten from the body and are loved and endorsed by customers, nutritionists, personal trainers and chefs around the world.
One Nutrition have also developed an additional product for people who suffer from lactose intolerance called Lacto Shield which again, should be taken before any meal that you’re not 100% sure isn’t free from lactose.
The supplement contains the enzyme lactase which breaks down lactose and prevent the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.
These enzymes really do work wonders as an effective treatment to lessen the symptoms surrounding food intolerances and provide the peace of mind to safely enjoy the festivities.
So with a little thought, pre-planning and consideration, these tips should help you to have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
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