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Navigating The Challenge of Food Intolerances During Festivities

The challenge – to continue to nourish yourself during festive times

Any global festivities can bring about angst for anyone for many reasons.  Often it is the pressure of finishing work projects before you take a break for the holiday, or it’s the planning of any gathering which can cause family or friendship strain, money constraints, or despair for those that feel alone. 


But for many people, with there being more and more today, it is the tension that can come with what are they going to eat outside of the traditional foods that many still consume. 

Food that can support them to continue to feel well and still feel a part of the celebration and be accessible cost wise and for their level of expertise when it comes to food preparation.


When we decide to honour what we feel to eat to ensure maintenance of our well-being, the tension that we feel is not just from trying to find supportive alternatives. Most of the tension is often related to being made fun of, or feeling “left-out” of the group and separated, the “odd one out” or “weird”, or dislike people making out you have a “problem” and sympathising towards you.


Why is it that we don’t like to be different to everyone else or why is it that people make fun of you or stay away from you when you decide to do something about your health?

Dog under blanket to represent mental health and food intolerance anxiety

It is widely known that our nature is to be with people, in communities and in groups.  Even those people that stay away from others and hide or prefer to keep to themselves often are found to want to be with people more but have had certain experiences in their lives that have resulted in them responding in this way, and so they distance themselves.


When people see and feel that you are making a change, there are a few reasons that could be causing this. It could be that it makes them feel guilty for not making the same changes you are doing as they have felt the same to be done but haven’t acted on that, or they fear that if you change, they will lose you. Some people respond by pushing you away first so you can’t push them away later or they wait for it to happen.


However, there are those people that love your changes and are inspired by you, embrace them, and encourage you, or even join you.  If you keep going, more of these people will appear and be enough to keep you going.  Eventually the others may come around, however don’t wait to find out. Keep moving and you will see – at least you will feel better, inspire others (including children around you), and know deep down you are not just helping yourself but many others compared to if you decided to make no change at all.

The biggest hurdle for most if not all of us is how we see the challenges that can arise during festive times, and what tools we have, to support us to address them.

Support for Life Chart to help navigate mental health thought processes


Eating supportively during these times supports us to be more settled to observe situations from a distance rather than from being lost or consumed within them.  This has been shown many times in research of how specific nutrients in our body and good gut health (blog, recording link) assist in the regulation and production of nervous response neurotransmitters, which have been found to strongly assist in a more supportive response and hence result in our decision making during challenging times.




Many people choose to go to unsupportive foods to try and cope with a situation, which in effect, often can make it worse.  For some, it does support in that moment or sometimes, but if people knowingly consume a food that they know they don’t feel great with, it’s a good chance this will make them feel worse during challenging or stressful times.


The Support For Life is a great simple flow chart that offers basic steps to consider with every challenge you are met with.  It takes away the focus of unnecessary thought processes, brings you back to the moment so you can take the steps in a more settled way from an observant point of view, to move through a challenge.


The support this chart offers can hence be applied to what food choices we are to make when it comes to festivities.  It also reiterates the importance of nourishing food and our gut and hence overall health, for assisting with the challenges that surround festivities – it’s  a constant interrelated cycle.

5 Tips For Supportive Eating for Celebratory Events

  1. Eat a supportive meal before you go to an event/celebration

  2. Phone restaurants or event planners ahead of time to organise your meal or supportive eating before the event

  3. Take a plate or dish

  4. Research and find supportive alternatives to celebratory foods that work for you

  5. Take supportive snacks with you in your bag

You can find more tips and examples of supportive dishes and snacks on our Facebook and Instagram pages.


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