Thanksgiving can bring up a lot of social anxiety for those of us who have weird diets or food allergies. Whether you follow the GAPS Diet, are gluten-free, or avoid grains, refined sugar, or something else, you can feel like a high-maintenance eater. How can we not stress so much over our special diet this Thanksgiving?
While some family members have strong opinions about what you eat, I really believe much of this stress is self-imposed. Others can sense your anxiety or ambivalence when you stare longingly at that apple pie while refusing a piece, and that can make them uncomfortable. When YOU are comfortable and happy with how you eat, it relieves any stressful energy around your food choices.
To help you get comfortable, here’s two ways you can cut your stress about your special food needs right now.
Option 1: Don’t follow your dietary rules so religiously.
If you aren’t suffering from a serious disease like Celiac or an anaphylactic allergy, it’s not life or death. I’m not saying you should throw out your whole way of eating (although you could), but can you decide on a compromise before you show up? What are the consequences of a treat?
Maybe you’ll feel a little bloated if you eat starchy mashed potatoes. How about taking a couple digestive enzymes with dinner? Maybe you’ll have some brain fog after a gluten-crusted apple pie. That might be ok if you’re heading to bed in a couple hours. Maybe you’ll be exhausted for a week after that corn-syrupy pecan pie. But maybe it’s worth it to you for the one day of the year you get to eat Grandma’s specialty, baked with all that love!
There’s not one right answer. Decide your boundaries and your treats right now. They don’t have to be what you did last year. And yes, they’ll change again next year too.
Option 2: Bring some of your super-delicious food to share.
Your special diet is working for you or you wouldn’t keep doing it, so why not share a favorite discovery with everyone? Your whole family may not want to eat your entire GAPS-Thanksgiving meal, but they might enjoy Brussels sprouts sautéed with pasture-raised bacon, a little beet kvass, or the Baked Apple Chunks with Walnuts dessert from the Internal Bliss cookbook (I was surprised to see what a hit this was when I brought it for myself last year). Have you discovered a crazy-good organic hard cider that means you’ll never miss drinking a beer? Bring a few extra bottles and share it freely. Don’t make a big deal about how this is some kind of healthier choice. Just offer up something delicious that anyone could love.
My family is totally used to my weird eating, and so am I. It doesn’t get in the way of enjoying each other’s company. I usually employ a little of both of these strategies. I cook for them when I visit, and if there’s a non-organic-local-whole-food I really feel like I’ll be missing out on, I have a little. As I’ve gotten healthier I can handle treats better, while many of my old favorite foods have just fallen off the list of what interests me.
So I make an informed decision based on what I know about my body right now, and what consequences I’m willing to face. I believe it causes unnecessary stress to deny anything I’d really love. And that’s not healthy.
If you’re getting started on GAPS and have lots of questions like this, join my upcoming online GAPS Diet Class and get them answered while you learn the cooking too!