This comic from Cat and Girl explains some people’s concerns when it comes to holiday entertaining and dietary restrictions. Yikes! Guess who’s coming to dinner? Dietary Restrictions and special diets can make menu-planning a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Some dietary restrictions are easy, such as no nuts, no seeds, etc. But some can be a bit more confusing because there are hidden foods. Let’s take a look at three of the most common restrictions right now.
Dietary Restrictions Explained
Dietary Restrictions: Lactose
If your guest is lactose intolerant it means that eating dairy products causes nausea, bloating, and gas usually within a couple hours. Many people choose to take a pill to help digest potential lactose but it’s easy to adjust your cooking. This can be helpful for people with the dietary restrictions around lactose. Hidden dangers include potatoes and pies which are usually made with milk as well as dressings and gravies often contain whey. To accommodate these dietary restricitons, make sides and desserts with lactose-free milk such as coconut or almond milks or vegetable broth (where appropriate). Serve cranberry sauce for those that can’t eat gravy. Provide salad dressings made with olive oil and vinegar.
Dietary Restrictions: Vegan
If your guest is vegan it means they don’t consume any animal products, usually including meat, dairy, eggs, gelatin, and honey. Feel free to print out some of my posts regarding the health problems with this dietary restrictions. But, in the meantime, no need to create animosity during the dinner. Watch out for marshmallows, Jell-O, stuffing, and some wines, plus anything listed above under lactose intolerant. Best bet is to offer a veggie platter and hummus. Try cooking a lentil-based entree. You can buy vegan desserts and wine for the individual (most local health food stores and coops offer a nice variety – or order on line in a pinch). If you’re eating turkey or beef, maybe carve it somewhere besides the table. Talk to this guest regarding their dietary restrictions for the best planning.
Dietary Restricitons: Celiac
If your guest suffers from celiac disease it means that gluten, which is in many grains, triggers antibodies to attack the small intestine, causing severe digestive distress. This can be a very severe dietary restictions. Any processed food can contain gluten, such as broths, spreads, crackers, and even turkey. Read labels of anything you purchase looking for wheat, barley, rye, oats, malt, etc. Ask if they recommend a particular brand or pick up ones that say gluten-free. Use separate utensils to prepare and serve food to guests as gluten is easily transferred.
It may not be perfect, but your guests will be thankful for your effort to accomodate their dietary restriction and needs. And you’ll be satisfied that everyone ate the meal you worked so hard on. Best of luck for wonderful holiday meals.