The holidays can be a stressful time. You want to enjoy this time with your family, but you know that they’re not used to cooking without dairy. You don’t want to insult anyone by not eating their food, but you also don’t want to feel like hell after dinner.
I see several solutions in several situations:
- You’re hosting dinner. Perfect. This means that you can make what you want, you make it dairy free and you just don’t tell anyone. They most likely won’t even notice. You can always buy some real ice cream and just make yourself a different dessert if the family really can’t do without their dairy filled dessert.
- You’re going to someone’s house for dinner and you know them well. A little harder, but still not so bad. COMMUNICATE. Call them about a week in advance, ask how they are, thank them for inviting you over bla bla and gently remind them that you cannot have dairy. Tell them that if it’s too much of an inconvenience you will bring your own thing, be accommodating, organizing a dinner is hard enough as is. If they know you well they will most likely already know and have taken your allergy into account. Don’t be upset if they say that cooking dairy free is something they’re not up to. Thank them for being honest and prepare to bring your own food. You can maybe talk about what they’re planning to make so that you know what you will be able to eat and what you will have to bring some substitute for.
- You’re going to someone’s house and they don’t know you very well/have expressed negative feelings about your allergy before. Keep a container with safe food in your bag. I’m serious. Try tactic number 2, but honestly, they’ll most likely forget. If and when they do, don’t get upset just tell them privately that you brought something that is safe for you and could you just dish it up in the kitchen. That way you’ll have food too, you won’t go hungry and you can just enjoy dinner without having to worry about whether or not it’s safe for you to eat.
- Everyone is bringing something. In this case the best you can do is let everyone know about your allergy, but bring something so good that you wouldn’t mind if it’s the only thing you get to eat all night. Just in case.
Really the only tip here is that communication is key. In this case communication is best over the phone. Sending an email risks that it’s perceived as passive or demanding. Call your host and be nice about it. Understand that they’re stressing out too, but you have to take care of yourself. Better to be a nag than to find out on the night that you can’t eat any of the food there and be miserable. It’s also important to realize that there are always going to be things you won’t be able to eat. Be it dessert or a dressing or a sauce. Keep asking questions. People will often forget that baking something in butter will also mean you can’t eat it. Just ask them if the meat has been baked in butter, ask if the dressing has yogurt. Just make sure. Don’t let it get you down if you can’t eat something and focus on the stuff you can eat, enjoy the company and try not to glare too much at that family member who thinks you’re just ‘trying to get attention’.
Happy holidays everyone!