I absolutely adore holiday season. The rest of the year, I’m a cynical pessimist, but I can’t help falling prey to the cheery commercialism and succumbing to that warm fuzzy feeling you get when entering a mall starting at the beginning of November.
But this year a dark cloud has been hovering over my contentment, and thy name is Fructose Malabsorption.
Halloween was survived by deciding to be “that house” that hands out Sweetarts and Smarties (too bad, kids!), but thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas…those are a bit more challenging.
My grandma cooks a meal at Christmas that everyone looks forward to all year, and Thanksgiving is a holiday that is (let’s not kid ourselves, giving thanks is secondary) completely centered on a meal.
But I’m determined not to let my diagnosis interfere with my once-a-year gaiety. And I encourage you not to give yourself a “pass” during this time, especially if you’re staying with friends or relatives. The last thing you want is to have to put up caution tape around the bathroom. So, much like my rules for traveling with Fructose Malabsorption, I’ve come up with some guidelines/suggestions for making the most of your holidays.
#1: Offer To Host
Probably the biggest headache of all your options, but this way you can control everything and make people eat your food. Ha!
#2: Bring Snacks
This is probably something you’ll want to make a habit of in your life in general. Whenever you go out for extended periods of time, pack some peanuts, chips, smarties, whatever you can tolerate, so that you don’t end up giving in and eating something questionable just because you’re starving.
#3: Prepare Your Own Meal
Another headache, yes, but this way you can still have great food without any worry. You can even bring fast food (if it’s open) if you hate to cook. Who cares? McDonald’s fries could make me forget about any meal!
This year I made my own Thanksgiving feast (recipes to come). I wanted to make my own turkey so that I wouldn’t have to worry about the person cooking adding any seasonings, or even stuffing ingredients leaking into the meat. But it turns out, most turkeys have ingredients added to them, like sugar or chicken broth–and who knows what could actually be in that! So the lesson here? Don’t trust that something is fructose free, ever. And never trust a turkey.
(If you choose to go this route, here is a nifty chart for storing leftovers.)
#4: Ask For Omissions or Separate Portions
Obviously this is one you want to save for people you know well. You don’t want to be going to your first Christmas with the in-laws and making all sorts of demands. But perhaps your grandma would be willing to make a separate chunk of roast beef for you, sans onion.
#5: Enlist the Family Favorite
If you think you will come up against any resistance to the above, talk it out with the family favorite before hand (don’t pretend like there isn’t one…). Explain to her that it’s important for you to stay healthy and that you need support when dealing with others who are less than accepting. That way, if you encounter any crap you have some backup. Hopefully you won’t have to deal with anything like this, but people can be weird, so it’s best to be prepared.
#6: Don’t Be an Ebenezer Sneezer
Or a Scrooge. If it weren’t already holiday time I probably wouldn’t include a suggestion like this, but we’re well into November at this point: Be happy! If you think your holiday season will be shit, then it’s going to be shit. I know it’s hard, but try to be positive, and remember what’s important during the holidays: presents.