‘Tis the season for festive feasting as tables groan under the weight of decadent spreads. There’s nothing quite like Christmas for getting us excited about food and it’s generally accepted that we will over-indulge. Well, it is the time to eat, drink and be merry after all.
But what if you suffer with a food intolerance? If there’s something in your diet that doesn’t agree with you, navigating the tempting treats can be a challenge, particularly if you don’t know exactly what’s causing the problem.
If Christmas has you feeling less than jolly, it might be worth taking a closer look at what’s in your festive favourites to see if some of them might be on the naughty list.
Common Christmas food intolerances
Christmas dinners have some firm favourites that we all love to load onto our plates. But many of them contain some surprising ingredients which are common triggers for food intolerance sufferers.
Pigs in blankets
For many of us, Christmas dinner just isn’t complete without these succulent little sausages. But many pre-prepared offerings can contain hidden wheat and gluten as part of the bulking process.
Stuffing is a side we can’t get enough of. But again, a source of wheat and gluten you may want to avoid if you find it gives you trouble.
We love a good crispy roast potato, but for many of us, we also love our Christmas tatties mashed. As the festive season calls for decadence, only the creamiest mash will do, often achieved with lashings of butter, milk and even cream. If you’re avoiding dairy, it might be better to stick to the roasties, or make you mash with dairy-free alternatives.
The plate just isn’t complete without gravy. But while we love a drizzle (or a drench) of this savoury sauce, for some of us, the yeast or gluten it can contain simply doesn’t love us back.
Love it or hate it, the Christmas pud is a tradition that shows no sign of stopping. Whether you douse it in brandy butter, cream, or custard, you might want to steer clear if you have problems with nuts or yeast, which can be found in dried fruits.
What better way to round off the perfect festive feast than with a few after-dinner chocs? We may find the sharing tins hard to resist but they commonly contain a few trigger ingredients you may need to be on the lookout for, such as cows’ milk, cocoa, and nuts. Some brands also contain sneaky sources of wheat and gluten.
Get festively free-from
With so many delicious snacks on offer, it can be difficult to turn anything down, even if you think you might regret it later. But you needn’t go without. Here are a few helpful hints to make sure you can get into the festive spirit.
Check the Labels
Did you know that most food ingredients have more than one name?
If you’re trying to avoid milk, you look for ‘cows’ milk’. But what about the other names? Milk can also be listed as lactose, whey, casein, lactulose, lactoglobulin and hydrolysates to name a few.
Most allergens, or ingredients in general, have a range of different names, depending on how they’ve been processed and their particular use in a product. If you’re trying to avoid a particular food, it’s well worth swatting up on its pseudonyms so you don’t get a nasty surprise!
Make your own
If you want to be completely certain about what’s hiding in your Christmas treats, making your own from scratch is a good way to go, particularly if you’re cooking for guests with food sensitivities.
We love BBC Good Food, which is jam-packed full of creative free from festive treats, catering for allergies and intolerances.
What is food intolerance?
It’s estimated that around 45% of the UK population has as food intolerance.
Food intolerances can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat, releasing antibodies to fight it. This reaction can result in a range of inflammatory symptoms, such as IBS and bloating, headaches, brain fog, skin complaints like eczema or acne, or joint pain. Those who experience food intolerance might have one or more symptoms, ranging from mild to more severe.
Take control of your diet
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. A common recommendation is the elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. But this process can take a long time. And, although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is found, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing the problem.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company.
At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Our tests include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet.