How to Get Through the Holidays on a Diet
If you are on a diet, then you might know how difficult going out to eat can be. And you probably also know that family gatherings, where food is envolved (so all of them), aren’t the most fun either. You get questions about what you can eat, and about why you can’t eat certain things. I know that I find it incredibly annoying from time to time to get those questions. Yet there are a few tips and tricks on how to get through the holidays on a diet.
1. Prepare your Food
My best tip is to prepare your own food and take it with you. Why? Because you can’t expect someone else to cook for you without possibly messing it up. Even when you explain what your diet entails, they can still get it horribly wrong. You have to remember that you yourself probably made some mistakes as well in the beginning. On top of that, you just can’t risk it. I, for example, have a long list of food intolerances and a few allergies, and I can’t be sure that the served food wasn’t touched by something that has been in contact with paprika (one of my worst allergies).
The easiest solution is to prepare some food in advance and bring it along. I usually take along just one portion for myself for each meal and then I bring some snacks or dessert, that others can enjoy as well. For example, I bring a cake or something else that can be served seperately, and which won’t be touched by any ‘contaminated’ (I don’t have a better word for it) hands or cutlery.
And when you serve your own food, just step into the kitchen and ask for a plate. This ensures that your food doesn’t stick out like sore thumb. Do the same with your meals.
2. Inform your Host Beforehand
If you’re going somewhere where you know the host quite well, then it’s always smart to give them a heads up. This way, they won’t be surprised when you show up with plastic containers full of food. And they can also let you know what kind of food there is going to be. A great way to help out, and stick to your dietat the same time, is to ask if they want any help. You can offer to make the dessert or cake, for example. They might ask you about the specifics of your diet, and they’ll suggest that they can cook for you. This is the moment where you have to put your foot down, and explain that it is not that simple.
If you don’t want to risk it, you have to be very honest to your host. For example, I once didn’t refuse someone’s offer to cook for me, because I didn’t want to come across as rude. The results of me trying to be polite were me being sick for quite a few days. Because The host had assumed that a little bit of onions wouldn’t hurt me all that bad. And she hadn’t told me that she had used them in a dish, even though onions are one of my intolerences. And I do realise that she meant well, but I never ate any food there again. (By the way, this was my then boyfriend’s mother, so you can understand why I didn’t dare decline when she insisted cooking for me.)
On the other hand, I have better experiences with me bringing my own food. My grandma still finds it really weird that I do it, but she has accepted it as one of my quirks, and for my family it is just the new normal.
3. Keep your Explanation Short but Clear
Others will probably ask questions or look at you with a weird look in their eyes. You can then either explain it all in detail, or you can keep it short. I like to keep it short (because I don’t like explaining that I get horrible constipation or diarrhea or even have to vomit when I eat something that I shouldn’t.) Instead of talking about all of that, I just say that I get really sick if I would eat it, end of story. The majority won’t understand why, but it’s really none of their business anyway. And if you want, you can also say that you would just rather not go into it at all, because it is too compicated. I mean, I still sometimes don’t know myself if I’m allowed to eat a certain vegetable, because I don’t know my entire no-go list by heart.
4. Going to a Restaurant? Call Ahead
If you’re meeting up with people in a restaurant, then it is always smart to call the restaurant up front. Often when you inform them about your situation beforehand, they might be able to make a special dish for you. Or when they can’t, they will probably tell you that it is fine for you to bring your own food, and they’ll inform you on where you can heat it up. I would suggest bringing something that can easily be heated up in a microwave.
Tip: A Few Easy Dishes You Can Bring Along
- a Pasta Dish: Cook the pasta upfront and make the sauce, then bring the two along seperately. Once you are there you can just heat it up in the microwave. (I personnaly use penne a lot, because it is easier to heat up than spagetthi)
- Soup: Make a big pot of soup, for example tomato soup and bring one portion along. This one can be heated up in the microwave as well
- Bread: This is an easy one. Make some sandwiches, and bring them along. And no heating up required.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is, that being on a diet is not a crime. It is something you must do to stay healthy and there are lots of people on diets around the world. It is sad however, that often when you tell people that you’re on a diet, they won’t take you seriously, because they think you are just trying to lose weight. And even if that is your goal, you can abide by the same rules.
I hope this has encouraged you to take good care of yourself during the holidays. If you like to read more articles about life on a diet, let me know in the comments.