Christmas time produces choices for food sensitive people. Will you eat all of your usual favourite Christmas food and just put up with your symptoms, or just have small amounts of all of them and note how strong your symptoms are? Will you decide to test just one favourite food such as ham off the bone, or Christmas pudding or cake? Every January I listened to stories of my patients. Some were fairly careful, and were even surprised they had very few symptoms. Others said they “would never do that again” after having bad symptoms that quite spoilt their time with family and friends. They said they remembered similar Christmases where they had a bad migraine, or spend a day in bed with bad gut pain, not to mention parents reporting on children who became hyperactive and very irritable. All said it reminded them why they needed their diet.
It makes sense to use Christmas to test out your tolerance in some way. It is probably worth testing one type of food chemical and see how much you can manage. For salicylates test some of the just beautiful fruit available. Mangoes and nectarines and watermelon are lower risk, then work up to other stone fruit and cherries, then Christmas cake and Christmas mince pies, maybe just having a bite. Remember the quality of the taste affects your tolerance, and remember there is often a build-up effect so you don’t get symptoms until after five or seven days eating the foods.
The important amine to test at Christmas is off-the-bone ham. It is often reported to produce bad crampy gut pain. For those who are very careful test just ripe bananas or really exquisite red paypaya. Leave your testing of chocolate for Easter.
Testing MSG often happens accidentally when you have fish and chips while on holidays and forget to remind the staff that you want only plain salt on the chips. Why they use chicken flavoured salt on chips with fish, still amazes me!
It may be a time to test a few additives in sweets and soft drinks. Remember everyone is different and “gets away with” different foods. And even different family members get away with different foods, or perhaps with different amounts. Of course the amounts you test in tiny children have to be small so you can make sure there are no bad reactions. Do not be too strict with yourself and learn about your own tolerance. It may even surprise you. It is worth reading Tolerating Troublesome Foods for info on all the factors which affect reactions, and hints on over 300 foods, so you learn what helps maximize your tolerance of each food.
I wish you a testing-new-tastes Christmas and great new year with more foods. Joan