3 Tips for Navigating the Holidays with Food Restrictions

Happy Saturday!

I keep checking the calendar, yall. How can it already be Thanksgiving week? I am so excited though, I LOVE Thanksgiving. For many reasons, but one of them, THE FOOD!

See this post (HERE) where I cooked an ENTIRE spread (turkey with fixings) our first Thanksgiving as Mr. and Mrs. Stokes. Yes, I will never forget shopping and buying that BIG turkey for just us two. And getting the fine china out, yall, I went for it. Printed menus and all. HA!

As you all know, I had to cut gluten out years ago (Jan. 2013 to be exact). This led me to the paleo way of eating. At the beginning, family get togethers and just eating outside of my kitchen stressed me out. When you realize what makes you feel bad, you obviously do everything possible to not feel that way again. Hence the reason why it doesn’t bother me a bit when someone eats gluten in front of me! And as much as you want to trust that label that says “gluten free” or that sweet relative that says it should be gluten free, it is hard to do that!

So what do you do?

Now that I have a fews years behind me of navigating these gatherings, I feel more confident going into these situations. Honestly, I love sharing food with friends and family! And if you don’t know that at this point, now you know that about me 🙂 Something about the “cookin” part in the blog title might have clued ya in 😉

So if this is your first holiday with medical or self-chosen restrictions, I wanted to share a few things that help me navigate this time of year. But remember this, at the end of the day the time spent TOGETHER is more important than the food. I am sure southerns are gasping that I even typed that. But is the truth. Important events seem to organize around food, but it can’t be the only focus.

3 tips to navigate gatherings with food restrictions:

  1. Ask to bring something! This takes the pressure off the hostess/family member and gives you confidence that you will have something to can eat. I do try and select items that, if needed, could standalone (maybe with a salad or something) if I can’t eat other items. Most gatherings have a fruit/veggie tray, so get creative along the lines of protein.
  2. Take responsibility. Ha. But really, if you have that ONE item that you truly can’t imagine Thanksgiving without, MAKE IT! Take it on yourself to find a recipe and go for it. It will be fun! And if it is a flop, oh well. Most real food based items might not turn out visually, but taste-wise, should be easy to hit the mark.
  3. No one is judging you or thinking it is “silly” to have food restrictions. Remember, everyone just wants you to feel good. Grandma might say something like “why can’t you eat THIS food” but don’t let it bother you. She is TRULY wanting to know why. Have a quick and simple answer ready to go for that curious uncle or cousin.

We have made the decision to keep Tripp gluten-free as long as possible. With my background, it is just the best thing to do for our family. And have y’all ever tried to TRY all the real foods out there? I have never thought about that until Tripp! I mean he is not deprived in the least and I bet he hasn’t even tried half the foods out there. And I am so glad there are improvements in healthier options at the stores. No, I am not making everything that he eats. Crackers, chips, and fruits are a few of his favorite things!

This is really his first Thanksgiving to really be INTO food. Last year, he LOVED the turkey though! I want him to try dressing/stuffing this year though. So I have chosen a few things to bring with me to our family gathering that I know he can grab and enjoy and that I can dig into as well.

What am I bringing to Thanksgiving?

  1. Stuffing–> Tripp loves the paleo bread and bagels from Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro, so I am grabbing a loaf of bread and throwing (think side dish size) some together. I am doing a mix between the recipe in Celebrations (HERE) and Predominately Paleo’s recipe (HERE). But I am totally tempted to do the pumpkin version from Paleo Running Mama (HERE).
  2. Roasted veggies–> Tripp LOVES roasted veggies and BACON. So this recipe from The Paleo Running Mama will be a hit.
  3. Pie–> We need a dessert and a festive one! He has been digging pumpkin in his oatmeal, so I think he will like a slice of pumpkin pie. I am taking a short-cut here and grabbing one from Mason Dixon.

We will have turkey there and some gluten-free options at the family table. But knowing that Tripp and I can have some stuffing and veggies with our turkey then dig into a slice of pie has me PUMPED! Both of our families are conscious of my food restrictions and the choices we have made for Tripp. Which just makes it so much easier entering this time of year!

Is this your first season with a food restriction? What are your tips? What are your worries?

Just remember… don’t STRESS! Stress won’t even let you digest your “go-to” foods properly.

Feel free to leave a note!