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Have a dietary restriction? Here's how to safely eat at holiday parties.

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The experts at Gastroenterology & Associates of Pensacola can diagnose and treat digestive diseases, assist with nutritional support, and help with weight loss management.

The holidays are a stressful time for most people. But if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions, navigating holiday parties or gatherings centered around eating can not only be anxiety-inducing but put your health at risk.

Whether you’re gluten-free, allergic to peanuts, lactose intolerant, vegan, diabetic, or a mix of all the above, there is safe a way to eat and enjoy yourself this holiday season. With these tips, you can have your (gluten-free) cake and eat it too:

Talk to the host before the party. Your host may already be well aware of your dietary needs, but you should still shoot them a text before the party to confirm what food will be available for you. Eating out? Call the restaurant beforehand and ask if they can make a dish you can eat. If your host was unaware of your restrictions or a restaurant is unable to accommodate

Offer to bring a dish. As you’ve probably learned, preparation is crucial to not starving at gatherings and events. Offer to make a side dish, casserole, or dessert (or all three!) that you can eat. Nobody will ever turn down extra food, and this way you can ensure the food you eat was prepared with the correct ingredients and without cross-contamination.

Don’t take any chances. It’s not rude to ask your host if what they’re serving has something that could make you sick—you have every right to ask questions about what ingredients are in the soup or how the turkey was prepared. Never trust a chef who says, “I think it’s safe!” Nobody knows your diet better than you (not even Aunt Susie, who keeps saying “one little bite won’t hurt!). Read every label and when in doubt, steer clear.

Pack a snack, just in case. Never arrive at a party hungry, especially if you’re not sure what they’re serving. Keep an allergy-friendly snack in your car or purse to devour if your stomach starts grumbling.

Stay focused on the future. Cheating on your restriction or your food intolerance for one night might seem like a good idea at the time (those chocolate chip cookies do look mighty tasty), but it’s important to keep reminding yourself of the physical and emotional damage one bite could do. Keep your eyes on the prize—you’ve got this!

The experts at Gastroenterology & Associates of Pensacola can diagnose and treat digestive diseases, assist with nutritional support, and help with weight loss management. Call 850-474-8988 or visit them online at www.endo-world.com to make an appointment.