Sodium Girl. We were thrilled to feature her in the Fall 2011 issue of Lupus Now Magazine and even more excited to hear from Jessica herself for a guest blog. Last holiday season, she shared with us some delicious Thanksgiving recipes and this year, she will guide our readers on getting through the challenges of being a guest with a dietary restriction during the holidays. Enjoy and check out her blog at www.sodiumgirl.com.
Over the next few weeks, family and friends will welcome us into their homes, opening up their refrigerators, ovens, and china cabinets for our entertainment and pleasure. We will be treated to succulent feasts, potlucks, and too many pies to count. And besides the food itself, sharing these treats with those we love is what the holidays are all about.
But as someone with food restrictions, keeping to one’s diet while remaining a gracious guest can feel trickier than trussing a turkey - if you don’t have the right moves!
Without ever having to impose on the host or hostess, it is easy to participate in all the culinary holiday fun while keeping your low-sodium diet. But before we even get to the low-sodium solutions, remember this: people want their guests to be happy and full. So if Aunt Janie or friend Sal found you nibbling on the edible table arrangements to stave off starvation, they would be horrified that they had not provided anything for you to eat. Sharing is caring. So here are some ways to let your host or hostess provide for you, without asking too much of their time, money, or catering bill.
Option 1: Full-Disclosure
Chances are your relatives and besties will already know about your food needs and they’ll most likely want to try their hand at making a few salt-free treats for you. So when you RSVP for the event, ask if you can send a recipe or two for easy, salt-free appetizers--like a bean dip--or if they want to make you a full meal, pass along a list of your needs so that they know exactly what ingredients to use and, of course, those to avoid.
Option 2: Helping Hand
Avoid asking the busy host or hostess to make a special meal for you and offer to bring a few low-sodium treats with you. Easily transportable appetizers --like jicama fries, salt-free bruschettas, or bite-sized beef tenderloin bites--will not only fill you up but will taste equally delicious to others.
Option 3: Edible Gifts
If you don’t know the host or hostess that well, one way to ensure yourself some salt-free food without ever really having to bring up the topic is to bring a salt-free food present. A can of salt-free popcorn, salt-free pickles, or salt-free pasta pretzel sticks will look too good (and perishable) to put in the cupboard. And with these edible gifts as part of the spread, you will be guaranteed something low-sodium to nibble on.
Option 4: Secret Stash
Last but not least, you can always pack a snack pack. Bring a small bag full of individual portions of traditional holiday foods, and that way, if the host or hostess suddenly realizes you have nothing to eat (gasp!), they’ll be happy to know you came prepared. Throw your food on a plate and be served with everyone else.
No matter which tactic you choose to take, remember that these are your family and friends (and maybe coworkers, too). They love you. They love seeing you eat. And the more you share with them about your diet--with enthusiasm, of course--the more they will learn about what you need. And who knows...next year there may be a whole low-sodium cornucopia waiting for you.
For more tips on making sure the Turkey and other traditional holiday dishes stay tasty and salt-free, check out Jessica’s holiday tips from last year!