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Survive the Holidays with Special Diets

Raise your hand if you feel like you're the only one in your family that eats super, super special. I know I do.

I've lived through many holidays and tried to figure out how to integrate the best that I can with my family even though I am gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, coconut-free, and I think there's some others on the list.

And every single year, I feel like I have to go through this whole rigmarole with the family of, “No. I can't eat that. Sorry. I can't eat this. Oh, I'm so sorry. I’d really love to, but…”

I've found a few ways to prep ahead of time to be able to know exactly what I can eat and exactly what I need to prepare or bring myself without feeling guilty about it.

So today, let's talk about three things you can do to get through the holidays with a lot less stress.

1. Know Who's Cooking for the Holidays

You can start by offering to cook. I love cooking. I love bringing something to the table and being able to share some of my knowledge and gifts with my family. And if they're not open to it, that's totally fine.

But I can also help them brainstorm ways to figure out a different alternative to recipes that are more allergen friendly.

I love to sit down with the main cooks of the meal and ask, “Hey, do you mind if I bring vegan butter to use instead of the regular butter? Do you mind if I bring a gluten-free stuffing mix or a cornbread mix instead of the regular bread mix that we're gonna use?”

For stuffing alternatives, I love using quinoa as a grain-free base. You can also use chopped up fruits and veggies and stuff turkey with that.

I know it's a little alternative and strange, but it's totally possible to make your turkey gluten-free by having the regular stuffing on the side and then stuffing the main bird with the grain- free mix so that you can be able to enjoy it too.

And then if you're going to try and do some gravy, it's really easy to switch out the flour for some sort of cornstarch, potato starch, arrowroot powder, or tapioca starch.

And if you just love a little bit of bread on the side, make your own rolls or bring your own gluten-free rolls so that you have your own bread to enjoy.

2. Bring Your Own Dishes

If the main chef isn't interested in changing up recipes, that's totally fine. Some people love their additional holiday recipes, and there's nothing wrong with that. I love to honor the family’s secret recipes and let people keep doing what they love to do. I like to bring my own few special things on the side.

I have actually noticed that in my family, I'm not the only one that has food allergies. And a lot of times, food allergies run in families.

If you're not the only one, then maybe you can find a small cohort of members among you that can go in on some collaborative alternative meals together.

If you're the only one there, don't worry. You're probably not the only one forever. You can pave the way for other people in your family to eat healthier and to try alternative foods.

I got to host Thanksgiving once, considering what my family would like. I made and really an entire spread of alternative, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free food that was absolutely delicious.

Along with all the alternative foods, we still had breads and cheese and peoples' favorite dishes on the side. But we had an amazing turkey with everything that you usually get, but it was a gluten-free stuffing.

One other time I brought a baked chicken on the