Accommodating special diets for holidays

By Donna Krug, K-State Extension
Donna Krug

Hostesses often worry about what to feed guests with special dietary needs at holiday time. This is especially true for a guest with a strong allergy to wheat, for example, or someone with insulin-dependent diabetes. Providing several simple whole food choices and staying away from so many highly processed foods is the best plan I can offer.

Most health problems accumulate from what we do day in and day out. Take for example, someone on a restricted fat and cholesterol diet for coronary heart disease. The newest dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association emphasize this point. They recommend that it is the total diet over several days or a week rather than what one eats in any given meal or even on a given day. This allows for some flexibility in choosing a variety of foods that are both nutritious and delicious.

While a calorie-laden Christmas dinner certainly does not help someone maintain or lose weight, it is a good time to exercise a little control. If you find yourself in the midst of holiday binge, just slow down your eating, refuse the seconds and talk more. If it is a buffet, move away from the food and sip on a low calorie beverage.

As a hostess, you can be considerate of your guests’ dietary needs by providing some alternatives. For a person allergic to the gluten protein in wheat, provide a rice or corn dish. Make a rice crust for the pumpkin pie or consider making a crustless pumpkin pie as a healthier alternative.

If guests with special dietary needs will be spending several days with you, invite them to help with the meal planning and perhaps even prepare one of their favorite dishes. The best advice is to not make a big deal out of the differences but focus on simple whole food choices.

Feel free to contact me for a copy of several healthy holiday recipes including the crustless pumpkin pie I referred to above.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Donna Krug is the District Director and Family & Consumer Science Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at (620)793-1910 or