Surviving the Holidays with Dietary Restrictions

Surviving the Holidays with Dietary Restrictions

(Published in New Living Magazine, November 2018)

When you think back to the Holidays of your childhood, what are your most cherished memories?  Do they include being surrounded by the people you love and enjoying the most amazing foods? Did your Christmas Eve include a traditional Italian style meal includedthe seven fish dishes with never-ending appetizers, fresh crab sauce and endless pastries? Did you enjoy latkes, Challah bread and brisket during Hanukkah? On New Year’s eve did you have a big bash with tons of appetizers and desserts?

How about Thanksgiving Day? The laughter, the football game and a massive feast from anti-pasta to a bacon wrapped turkey to decadent desserts. Yumm. Whatever your religion, however you celebrate your own holidays, you cannot deny that food plays a hugepart in celebrations and traditions.

Unfortunately, for many people, food can be much more of a burden than a blessing during these celebrations. Maybe it’s heart disease, diabetes or food allergies.  For some people it’s an auto immune disease like Celiac which also dramatically diminishes what you can eat.  Celiacs cannot eat anything containing gluten and many celiacscan’t have dairy either.  Whatever your reason is for having dietary restrictions, know this; you are not alone. You may have high blood pressure, you may have a peanut allergy or you may just want to stay fit and healthy.  Your reasons are relevant and you should not suffer because of them.

It has been said that knowledge is power and when it comes to surviving the holidays the more you know, the better off you will be.  Everyone should be aware of one of the most significant holiday mishaps that is most overlooked; calorie consumption.  You can easily consume over 3000 calories a day during the holiday season. This is a very common occurrence, especially when dining out during shopping, attending celebrations, holiday parties and dinners. Most people have no idea they are consuming this many calories.

Of course the food is delicious and the drinks are flowing, but for your health, this can be a recipe for disaster.  Even if you do not have a medical condition or food allergies you may be at risk if you constantly over indulge.  When you over eat throughout this season, it tends to be more sugars, fats and carbohydrates.  Let’s be honest, you are not stuffing your face with broccoli, beets and water. Over-eating puts extra stress on your organs, forcing them to work harder.  Your body is trying to keep up with everything you are putting in it.  This is why you may feel fatigue, pain, bloating, heartburn and get headaches.  

Now, this is not to say you shouldn’t enjoy the most festive time of year and indulge a little. There is a way to survive the season without sacrificing waistlines. You can survive the holidays with dietary restrictions.  You can survive the holiday’s gluten free; you can stay healthy all while enjoying yourself and making memories. The more you know, the better off you will be!  Here are some tips to help you through the holiday season.

Win with Water.  

Drink water all day long. Not only is this a must for your dry winter skin, but it will also help you feel fuller. Drink a full glass before eating. Shoot for about 80 ounces a day.

Coordinate your plate.  

More veggies, less potatoes. More turkey, less gravy.   More beans,zero bread. If you are hosting the holiday, you will have a much easier time preparing your food without the risk of cross contamination of a danger food.  If you are a guest, that can be tricky.  Preparing ahead of time is the absolute BEST choice.  Reach out to the holiday host if possible, making her aware of your condition. During the holidays people tend to be in the spirit of giving and the host may want to ensure there is a dish or two you can have.  I also highly recommend bringing your own meals/snacks.  Once people understand how sick you can get from food, they will not berate you for packing your own.

Pick 1.  

Dessert that is.  Pick one Dessert you absolutely must have and have it!  Again, same as above, talk to the host and bring your own if you have special dietary requirements.

Add bubbles.  

Alcohol can account for a large amount of calorie consumption.  Try adding bubbles to your drink of choice.  Adding seltzer instead of juice or soda to rum, vodka, tequila or even white wine (as a spritzer) is a great way to cut the calories.  Add some seasonal fresh fruit for a pop of flavor.  


Don’t skip workouts even if you are out of town.  Find a way to get 30 minutes of active fitness in 3 times per week. There are many workouts designed for those with no gym access. Calisthenics needno equipment at all and you will get a great workout. You can also go for a power walk. Remember, any movement is better than no movement.  

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