The added challenge of eating allergen free during the holidays can be overwhelming for any of us, and we are no exception. For anyone making changes to their dietary needs during the festive parties, potlucks, and family time can feel like a mine field of problematic moments and a burden when all you want to do is dig in to your favorite foods. The following story is how we started to deal with one of those bumps in the road.
I come from a large Southern family and our holiday meals have always been potluck dinners where each person would make enough of their best dishes to feed up to 20 people. We would meet in my family's Fish Camp (a Southern seafood restaurant specializing in fried fish, hushpuppies, and french fries) to make the mess easier to clean and have room for our large brood. Everyone arriving would place their delicious foods on a large banquet table to share. The sight of all that food made Thanksgiving and Christmas the best holidays of the year...until we went gluten free.
For three years after Doodle's celiac diagnosis, my mother and I would cook a completely separate gluten free meal and cart the lot over to the Fish Camp so Doodle wouldn't miss out on the festivities and family, nor the food. Although we still were missing out on 50% of the items at the large table, there was enough to fill us to stuffed mode before having to lug the leftovers back home. The great addition to this story is that Lake Todd Fish Camp now has gluten free fried fish and hushpuppies because of Doodle.
In December of 2011, we moved two hours away from the family to the mountains of NC. Thanksgiving rolled around in 2012 and it was the first time we spent holidays at home. I explained to my disappointed mother and father that we would not be there that year. There was no way I could justify making a whole meal and transporting it for a two hour drive, not to mention the challenge of food possibly spoiling on the way.
And you know what? It was the best feeling ever to wake that morning ready to cook our dinner with no time schedule to meet, no planning of who was making what, and no loading up the car and all the work that entails. We learned that day that all those years, my stress level had been higher than a kite on a windy March Carolina day. The new found joy of truly enjoying the holidays was one I will never forget. Now, we spend every holiday at home and plan a date afterwards to meet our family for a meal at a restaurant, with very little stress attached.
Just like most of our journey to health and wellness, the realization that stress is a factor in our healing process and avoiding it can be done with a little rearranging of the way things used to be has been refreshing. I hope that by sharing our story, inspiration will arise in how you can strive to add less and not more onto your plate.
Can you think of one way to make your holidays less stressful and more enjoyable for you and your family?
We hope you enjoy a stress free beautiful Holiday season.