So how can you enter the holiday season, with all of its visiting and shared meals, be a gracious and kind dinner guest, not give into the temptation to acquiesce so you don't cause hurt feelings, and follow the food rules that keep you feeling on top of your game and health?
Here are 5 simple table tips:
1. Give a head's up: Let your host know as far as possible ahead of time that you are looking forward to the shared meal, and that you also hap- pen to have health-based food restrictions that you really do have to follow or else you pay for it later. You don't want to be a nuisance but this is important to you. A bit of disclosure ahead of time will make things less uncomfortable for you than rejecting platter after platter at the dinner table.
2. Bring a dish: Ask your host if it would be helpful and welcomed for you to bring a couple of dishes that will meet your health needs and that you can also share with others. Find out what foods coordinate with what is being served so your dish will harmonize with the meal. It's quite likely that another dinner guest will have some food restric- tions if the dinner party is large enough, so prepare foods that are as allergen-free as possible – i.e., gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free will cover a lot of people's needs these days.
3. Don't show up hungry: Eat something at home before you go to the dinner. Getting satisfied on healthy foods before the festivities will make it less tempting to fill up later on things that will leave you feeling bad in the long run.
4. Bring your enzymes: If you have a food intolerance but not a terrible food allergy, bring along some di- gestive enzymes to take at the start of the meal – this can help prevent some of the symptoms that might usually result from eating foods that don't agree with you should you inadvertently eat something "contraband" or decide to go with the flow.
5. Be kind and confident: Be true to your health and tell the truth without apology while at the A simple statement such as "I don't mean to be rude, but I am truly gluten intolerant and can't eat that… as much as I really want to" can make a huge difference when you decline that basket of bread or pumpkin pie. It might even get you a wink of admiration from someone, and get a conversation going about health and food. Others may find themselves eating healthier because of your honesty. Regardless, others' food issues, their judg- ments, or disapproval should they express any, are not your problem. You have the right to eat well and feel well, so don't internalize any guilt!