Thanksgiving with Food Intolerances

Thanksgiving with Food Intolerances

Learning to eat following a FODMAP diet in your own home is tricky enough, but it can be very daunting when you get an invite out.  This Thanksgiving, The Husband, The Kid, and I have been invited out to a friends place for Thanksgiving dinner.  Even thought they are dear friends, I am still nervous about the whole thing, so I thought I’d give myself a list of things to do before I try to celebrate Thanksgiving with Food Intolerances.

Have Platter, will Turkey!
Have Platter, will Turkey!

In some ways, successfully eating out when you have a food intolerance seems a bit like waging a war: 90% preparation, 1% action, and 9% waiting around for the worst to happen.  So here’s my plan:

Gutsy Broads Top 10 List for Eating Dinner out as a Guest

1) Call the Hostess to let them know, or remind them, that I have food intolerances.  This is the hardest thing for me to do, because I don’t look sick, I don’t want other people to pity me, and I hate explaining an intolerance to eggs, dairy and what the heck a FODMAP is.  I’m lucky that the hostess for this year’s Thanksgiving Dinner knows that I have food intolerances, so I will assume (which I know is a dangerous thing) that she’s waiting for me to call and help her out.

2) When talking with the Hostess, I will ask about the main course she is planning on serving.  Thanksgiving is usually turkey, so I’m hoping she’s not planning on serving it drenched in a heavy garlic cream sauce or something.  If the turkey will be cooked simply and just the gravy will be off limits for me, I’ll know just to stay away from the gravy.  Because of my dairy intolerance, if she’s planning on serving a butterball turkey I may have to do some heavy strategizing.  I’m not going to tell her what she can or cannot cook so I will plan on taking a teeny piece for my plate and asking my husband to quietly steal it during dinner.

3) Also when talking with the Hostess, I will ask about side dishes.  Usually it’s potatoes – if her plans are to prepare it in a way I’m uncomfortable with I can offer to bring my own baked potato.  She will probably then offer to nuke a potato for me –  if she doesn’t that’s no big deal.

4) I may slip in a question about dessert.  I will already feel like I am grilling her, so depending on how the conversation is going I’ll decide whether to approach this or not.  I can always pass on dessert – there’s always at least one annoying person at every dinner party who refuses dessert, it might as well be me.

5) I will offer to bring something.  Actually, I already know that I’m responsible for bringing the salad, so I’ll make sure that it, and the dressing, is low FODMAP. I will then feel comfortable loading up my plate with it.

What else can I add?
What else can I add?

6) Before going to the dinner, I will eat something filling at home.  Making sure that you are ‘sort of’ full before going out for dinner seems counter-productive, but it is a tried and true strategy.

7) I will take two things to dinner (besides the salad):  A positive attitude and a purse with a couple of safe granola bars. I may take an appetiser if I feel brave.

8) I will go easy on the alcohol.  I know that I need to stay alert during dinner, and getting blasted isn’t conducive to that. Sigh.

9) I will not make a fuss at dinner.  If all I have on my plate is a piece of turkey (inedible or not), a baked potato and my salad – that will be fine.  Having something on my plate is less of a distraction for other guests than having an empty plate at the table.

10) I will be prepared in case I ingest something that sets off my stomach.  I always like to wait about an hour after eating something I’m unsure of, just to see if my stomach will reject it or not.  So, not eating dessert, sipping my wine or tea, and then chatting while cleaning up the dishes will give me time to decide if I’m ok to get in the car and head home.  My purse will have my emergency kit (extra underwear, etc.) just in case.  Having this with me gives me some comfort and helps reduce my stress which can make a mild symptom much worse.

Contents of my kit.
Contents of my kit.

My plan is to do what I can to make sure I can accomplish the real goal of Thanksgiving dinner: spending time with family and friends, enjoying each other’s company.

Hopefully this list can help you if you’ve been invited out to Thanksgiving dinner!

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