093: How To Stick To Your Skin Rash Elimination Diet For Special Occasions

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re on some variation of an elimination diet to help your skin.

No matter how knowledgable you are, nothing will test your resolve like the holidays.

The reason is that some people can easily become offended when you refuse to eat their food (no matter your health situation).

In an effort to help you have a more enjoyable holiday (and ultimately burn fewer bridges), I want to share with you how to address diet restrictions after getting an invitation. 

It does take some practice, but after 10+ years of living gluten-free, I can tell you that this approach works the majority of the time.

There’s certainly no guarantee that someone will understand.

But if you follow my lead, you’re less likely to create bad blood and hurt feelings. AND you might even end up with allies on your side.

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

In this episode:

  • How to handle invitations for the holidays when you’re eating a restrictive diet
  • Why hosts can become offended by your diet choices (even though it has nothing to do with them)
  • Why avoid last-minute announcements about your diet (and how to share what’s going on instead)
  • How to deal with larger events like weddings or parties at restaurants
  • Script for talking to the host (that minimizes hurt feelings & builds goodwill)

Quotes:

Though you and I might totally understand that you’re doing this for the sake of your skin or gut or thyroid or whatever… other people will not. Refusing food for the sake of YOUR health can cause hurt feelings.

By approaching an invitation in this way, it helps your host know what to expect, not feel blindsided, and ultimately avoid embarrassment in front of other guests when you refuse to eat their food.

Christmas dinner table with different dishes

How To Stick To Your Skin Rash Elimination Diet For Special Occasions (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #93 of the Healthy Skin Show!

In today's episode, I want to share some tips and tricks on how to stay on your elimination diet (if you're on one) around holidays, special events, office parties, barbecues, the holidays, etc.

This way you don't offend your host. You don't feel pressured to eat things that you know are going to be problematic. And you're seen by everybody as being super easy-going and laid back about the whole food thing.

The point here is to reduce the amount of tension and emotional strain that tends to happen around this time of year.

We're in the holiday season right now and what I don't want for your skin to end up flaring because you're super stressed out about your diet. And add to that the stress of attending parties and having these awkward interactions with people over food.

Since I have a lot of experience coaching clients around this for many, many years and following an elimination diet this myself, I want to share a few pearls to help you get through these situations.

My goal here is to help you reduce the stress you’ll likely encounter so that you can enjoy the time that you have with people who are either special to you or you need to be around because of work.

Though I'm not a big fan of massive elimination diets, I know that many people in our community are on some version of an elimination diet for their skin.

AND I always recommend, at a bare minimum, that clients go gluten-free to reduce leakiness of their gut (aka. gut permeability).

But here's the thing…

No matter your specific food eliminations (ie. gluten, dairy, egg, nightshades), and how compliant and skilled you are at maintaining it, the holidays are tough.

People eating Christmas dinner overhead photo

Refusing Food (Even For The Good Of Your Skin) Can Cause Hurt Feelings

Your elimination diet mixed with the holidays and special events can cause a lot of trouble and may be seen as overly complicated and difficult by others.

People who don't understand what you're doing (and why you’re doing it) can become very offended when you refuse their food. 

Food and eating together have cultural and social ramifications that bring families and people together.

And when you say no to food (regardless of the reason), people unfamiliar with your health conditions or who don't think that there's any connection between food, diet and health, may not understand.

Your refusal to partake can ultimately cause fractured relationships, no more invitations for future celebrations, and unfortunately very hurt feelings that can last for many years.

One of the biggest reasons why this happens is due to last-minute announcements about your situation.

Last-minute announcements include calling the host the day before the event to tell them that you can’t eat their food. Or showing up to a party where is dinner being served and suddenly announcing that you can’t eat anything there.

Though you and I might totally understand that you’re doing this for the sake of your skin or gut or thyroid or whatever… other people will not.

And keep in mind that refusing food for the sake of YOUR health can also cause hurt feelings.

While you’re trying to do something for yourself which isn’t necessarily a judgment about the healthfulness of the food being served, the person who made it or who is serving it can feel judged.

They’ll end up going through some iteration of the following thought pattern…

“So wait, what are you saying? My food's bad for everyone? My food is not good enough for you.”

“And what the heck is this whole thing about? You can't eat the food cause you got a rash. I'd never heard of that. Sounds like you're just making stuff up because you don't want to eat my food.”

Even if you don’t intend for this to happen, it is how they may feel especially when you don’t handle things the right way.

Christmas dinner in front of Christmas tree

How To Minimize Conflict At Holidays Over Your Skin Rash Elimination Diet

There’s a better, kinder, more proactive way to approach your skin rash elimination diet so that people don’t get offended.

By taking the right steps that I’ve discovered myself over the past 10+ years, you can minimize diet and food conflict around holidays and special events.

First of all, tell the host at least one to two weeks in advance.

The larger the event, like a wedding, definitely requires even more notice especially if you expect to be accommodated.

Second, be clear that you aren't trying to make things more difficult. 

Share with them some version of the following…

“I deeply appreciate the invitation, but at this time because of my _____, I’m using different tools such as diet to help keep the skin flares at bay because of how debilitating they are.

My diet is one of the pieces that I’m testing right now, but given that I can’t see results overnight, I’m not in a position to be able to cheat or compromise because it means I have to go back to the beginning. 

Since I know that you're working so hard on the meal, what I can do to make this easier on you is I can bring my own food. I'll heat it up and plate it and eat with everyone else. That way we can eat together and it takes the stress off of you of having to change your menu last minute to accommodate one person. 

And I know that you probably would be open to making adjustments, but I don't want to put that stress on you. This is a much easier solution for you! I'm also happy to make one or two side dishes or desserts to bring to the party as well to support you and make your life easier. So please let me know what I can bring.”

Any dishes you make and bring should be food that you can eat. This will also reduce the stigma that you’re not eating the same food as everyone else. Just make sure to take your own serving first to avoid contamination.

By approaching an invitation in this way, you show respect and courtesy while building goodwill between you and the host. 

It helps them to know what to expect, not to be blindsided, and ultimately avoid embarrassment in front of other guests when you refuse to eat their food.

The conversation that could appear judgmental to others never has to happen publicly. They're already aware of what's going on and hopefully they're more understanding about it.

I wish I could tell you that all of this works 100% of the time.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case and there is no guarantee that that will work, but in most instances, it will.

Dining table at wedding

How To Handle Your Skin Rash Elimination Diet For Bigger Events

When it comes to a catered affair like a wedding, you're going to have to ask for the caterer's phone number long in advance to discuss the options on the menu.

You may be able to get something safe from them that's made specifically for you. But if that is not an option, ask if you can bring your own food in a container for them to heat up, plate and serve you during the dinner course.

In this particular case, respond to the invitation immediately that you have food restrictions and then call the host directly. 

After making your plans with the caterer, follow up with them the week of the event to double-check, especially if this event is really important to you. You don't want to be dealing with food and getting in arguments with people last minute because nothing went right.

If the event is held at a restaurant, it's usually easy to find the restaurant menu online.

Speak with the manager of the restaurant and ask them explicitly what you can have based on your food restrictions.

Work out the details ahead of time and be prepared with your order once you’re seated. This way you don't have to have this long conversation about the menu with the wait staff while everyone else is waiting on you.

If you already know what’s safe for you to eat, all you need to do is let your server know about your food restrictions and which dishes you want.

Think about how much less stressful that is compared to everyone sitting there waiting on you (or even glaring at you) being frustrated at how long this entire back and forth takes.

You will likely end up feeling increasingly uncomfortable and feel like people are judging you the longer it takes you to order.

By figuring out your order ahead of time, it reduces your stress levels exponentially.

Just be aware that despite your best efforts, some people may not understand your diet changes no matter how respectful you are. 

It’s best to be mentally prepared for this as a worst-case scenario.

Not everyone will understand.

Not everyone will be accommodating.

Some people will constantly make nasty comments even years after you make diet changes. They just absolutely refuse to accommodate you.

Sometimes it can help to share what's been going on with you and your health as explicitly as you feel comfortable.

You don't have to tell them every nitty-gritty detail, but when people don't know what's going on, it’s can be hard for them to understand WHY you’re doing this.

Here’s the thing…

Do not assume that someone else truly understands the burden and struggle of your skin rashes or your health. If you’ve never told them, they may not think that your issues are that bad.

It’s your responsibility to help them see what it’s like to walk in your shoes. The clearer you are with them, the more they’ll hopefully be able to empathize with and support you.

Either way, I hope that what I have shared will help you this holiday season and beyond. If you have any additional thoughts or questions, leave them in the comment section below so we can keep the conversation going.

Please, if you know someone who's struggling with this or someone who is at the beginning of figuring out this whole food elimination thing…

Share this episode with them. 

It will help alleviate so much stress and make their holiday season or special occasion that much better.

Thank you so much for tuning in and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode!

Though you and I might totally understand that you’re doing this for the sake of your skin or gut or thyroid or whatever… other people will not. Refusing food for the sake of YOUR health can cause hurt feelings.