Tackling the Holidays Without Food Intolerances Tackling You

Holiday elf holding a glass of wine.

There is nothing more American than football, and the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without sporting your favorite team’s jersey, cheering at a TV screen (or in person if you’re lucky!), and groaning when the refs make a bad call.

The holidays can also be one of the hardest times of the year when you have food intolerances. Navigating through the defensive line to score a touchdown requires some strategic planning, but it can be done. Let’s walk through it.


You’re on your way to the first of many holiday parties with a smile on your face. You can’t wait to hang out with all the people you enjoy most, eat, drink, and celebrate the holiday spirit.

Run in with the Defense

When you walk into the gathering, you notice a table loaded with all of the foods which bring back tasty memories from years past. There’s Grandma’s dressing, Cousin Fred’s green bean casserole, Dad’s pecan pie with the secret ingredient. A neighbor brought a salad, your sister brought creamy mashed potatoes, Uncle Johnny roasted some corn on the cob. And of course, there’s the star of the whole table, a huge, perfectly cooked bird. That’s when you realize the only thing you can eat is some of the turkey and the salad. You think to yourself that you could probably have a piece of Dad’s pie if you only eat a little bit. And the green bean casserole looks harmless, so why not have some of that, too?


You end up with those symptoms you know all too well: bloating, terrible gas, cramping, the urge for a bowel movement every five minutes. You signal your significant other that it’s time to head home, mumble an excuse, and exit as gracefully as you can.

Second down, with a 15-yard loss

It takes a few days, but your GI tract settles down thanks to a return to your normal diet and some medicine your GI doctor gave you. You’re ready for round two with the other side of the family.

Running back makes a play to first down

This time, you bring along two dishes of your own. They may not be traditional holiday fare, but you know they’re full of fun fall flavors. When the in-laws raise their eyebrows, you raise your glass to holiday traditions, new and old.

Pass complete

The whole family likes the dishes you brought and several of them ask you to bring them along to next year’s festivities. Aunt Gladys secretly confides she’s sick of the regular stuff anyway; she’s going to bring something new next year, too.

In the Red Zone

Dessert is coming up and you aren’t sure exactly what’s in the offerings. You’ve been feeling well the entire meal and you don’t want to feel sick for days after a little splurge again. You pull your mother-in-law aside and discreetly ask about the ingredients in the dessert she made. When she asks why you want to know, you swallow the urge to lie, and tell her the truth about your food intolerances. To your surprise, she gives you a big hug and asks why you hadn’t told her sooner. “I could have tweaked the recipe so you could have some, too,” she says. But she digs around in the pantry and whips up a dessert just for you, minus all the stuff that makes you sick.


You enjoy the get together the entire time you’re there. Even the annoying twin nephews don’t annoy you too much this year. They might be growing up a little. But you also might be enjoying your first holiday without a stomach ache in a long time.

Way to go, team!