Photo by / SeventyFour

A Different Kind of Eating

As we approach the holiday season, many events will surround food — not just for one or two events; most events will encourage guests to indulge in quite a bit of food. For many holiday parties, that means plenty of alcohol as well.

There is nothing wrong with these festivities, they’re what make the holiday season social and fun. However, as someone who has struggled with IBS just about my entire life, it’s difficult sometimes to say no to things you know are bad for you. If I eat or drink things I shouldn’t, I’ll pay for it the next day — and maybe the next — and hope the sacrifice was worth it.

For others who have more serious conditions, making the wrong selection doesn’t just bring a little discomfort; it could be life-threatening. I know a few women who have celiac disease, and if they do decide to go to a holiday party they simply don’t eat anything there.

One year, I hosted a Boxing Day Bake at my house, which took place the day after Christmas, and baked several selections for everyone to take a sample of. I knew one of my friends had a digestive issue and made a cake specific to her needs. That way she didn’t have to use the “it’s OK, I’ve eaten already” excuse not to participate. Most hosts don’t consider that anything could go wrong with their food if they’ve never known someone whose stomach or gut doesn’t work quite right.

Mr. Carter’s school is a peanut-free establishment, and I know many who roll their eyes at such a restriction. The argument is always, “We never had peanut allergies when I was a kid,” when the reality is we likely did, but it wasn’t as understood. And for the few that suffer from it, it’s hard to see insensitivity from nearly everyone around you. People either see you as weak or as a diva.

When it comes to food, it’s best not to judge. Digestive discomfort, like vomiting, diarrhea, or farting, are certainly not things we talk about at parties. If someone expresses an interest in any type of diet, from gluten-free to vegan, it’s best to be encouraging and learn more about it rather than scrunching your face in disagreement. It may be easier for them to label their food preferences like that rather than having to explain an underlying medical issue. Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy way to ask for my needs. “I’ll take the low FODMAP selections from the menu, please” doesn’t have a familiar ring to it.

Enjoy the holidays and indulge when you can, just don’t be afraid to ask your guests if there is a way to make their experience a little more inclusive and certainly don’t give someone a hard time because they don’t eat or drink as you can. I know they will appreciate the consideration.