Christmas is a time for cozy evenings while indulging in our favorite treats. My partner calls me “Mrs. Christmas” because, in December, our home becomes a haven of festive creative activities, such as wreath making and biscuit baking. I am genuinely looking forward to the year I get to do Christmas — for now, my mum is firmly clinging onto that baton.
But until then, I’ll keep up my tradition of making the desserts, whipping up the richest hot chocolates, and cooking the most comforting winter dishes.
Yet I’ll be honest; I don’t use conventional methods. I can’t bake with real butter, make a sugar-laden dessert, or add a side of bread sauce to my roast dinner. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Instead, I take a creative and culinary adventure to discover the best alternative ingredients and make up the most delicious recipes I can.
We can sometimes get so caught up with what we can’t eat with endometriosis that we forget about what we can eat. It doesn’t have to be full throttle. It’s about priorities.
What do I mean?
Well, my key inflammatory triggers are dairy, gluten, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. I am happy to replace most of these over Christmas as I’ve become accustomed to eating a particular way and have spent a long time developing alternative recipes — but I won’t avoid all my inflammatory foods, because it’s Christmas!
So I’m making some choices. I know that my worst pain triggers are sugar and caffeine, alcohol hurts my bladder, dairy makes me sick, and gluten is the least aggravating.
I’ve made a promise to myself — because I’m doing the Last 90 Days challenge — to eliminate sugary foods, as I know that this is where I have the least willpower and this food group causes me the most symptoms. Instead, I’ve been perfecting some awesome sugar-free desserts and baked delights using alternative natural sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit. I’ll only be indulging in 100 percent dark chocolate, which is sugar-free and — when your taste buds adjust — delicious.
I’ll be sticking to caffeine-free teas and coffees, which I usually only have at the weekend anyway. But I will allow myself to enjoy a few cups of caffeinated tea over the Christmas period — when my family are sitting together enjoying tea that’s when I really want one.
For some of us, alcohol is a big one to give up at Christmas, and I appreciate that. I am sure that at some stage, I’ll want a glass of something. My previous go-to was a glass of prosecco, but I’ve since discovered that the bubbles are one of the worst things for a painful bladder. So I’ve swapped to dry red wine — it has anti-inflammatory properties, and is much lower in sugar than most wines. I don’t drink much at all, but I want to give myself an option in case.
Dairy-wise, I’m not too worried. In the United Kingdom, it’s now fairly easy to get hold of dairy-free butter, milk, chocolate, etc. I’ve even recorded a podcast about the alternatives available.
When it comes to gluten, I tend to choose my battles. I’ll make my own stuffing and sides for Christmas Day, and ensure everything is gluten free. For example, I’ll use gluten-free bread for the stuffing and gluten-free flour to thicken the gravy, but I will allow myself some gluten if I fancy it when I’m out and about. I’m heading to Scotland in a few days, and I’m sure I’ll stumble across a bakery and just have to try their bread, or I’ll find a pizza joint that does vegan cheese but doesn’t have gluten-free bases. I know that I can get away with it, so if the Christmas festivities call for a little gluten, I can have some.
To be clear, I fully intend having a full roast dinner with all the trimmings, custard, mince pies, chocolate, dessert — all the Christmas traditional fare, but in a way that won’t cause me to have a flare.
If you want to try out creating some delicious alternatives that allow you to enjoy your food with minimal reactions, I encourage you to start searching. Think about your favorite Christmas delight, and look for a way that you can still indulge.
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