A potluck is a fun get-together with friends, family or colleagues where everyone brings some food to share and eat. I’ve attended potlucks at all times of the year, but they seem to be the most popular around the holidays. For anyone who has food intolerances or is following the low FODMAP diet, any event that focuses on food can be stressful. I’ve previously written about eating at restaurants on the low FODMAP. This blog post has my top tips for sticking to the low FODMAP diet at potlucks (or any get-together that involves food)!
Tip #1 – Talk to the host ahead of time
When you are invited to a potluck, it’s a good idea to let the host know right away that you won’t be able to eat all the food. You can let them know that the reason is a medical issue, not that you don’t like the cooking. It can feel intimidating to talk to someone about your dietary restrictions, but in my experience, people are very nice and understanding. You can also let them know that you will bring some food and drinks you are able to eat.
Tip #2 – Bring your own food and drinks
Assume that all the foods and drinks are high FODMAP. Unless you are confident that you know all the ingredients in a food or drink and they are low FODMAP, avoid it. You can still participate by bringing your own food and drinks. Here are some examples of foods you could bring (there are more recipes on my recipes page):
Cranberry Holiday Mocktail (pictured below)
Tip #3 – Eat food before you go
If you show up a potluck hungry, it will be much harder to resist eating high FODMAP foods – that salsa with big chunks of onion will look twice as appetizing. Have a meal or at least a filling snack before you leave.
Tip #4 – You do not have to eat anything you do not want to
When people make food to bring to a party, they are often excited to have everyone try it. It can feel hard to say no, but remember that you are not obligated to eat all the food. If someone insists, you can say something like, “I wish I could try it and it looks great, but unfortunately, I have food intolerances and that would make me feel unwell”.
Anyone who really cares about you would not want you to eat something that would make you feel unwell. If you simply explain the situation you can avoid hurting their feelings and feeling sick later.
Tip #5 – You don’t have to explain your digestive issues to everyone
You may get questions about why you aren’t eating certain foods. It is up to you whether or not you would like to discuss your diet. If you don’t want to discuss it, you can simply just state that you have food intolerances, and then change the topic by asking the person a question about themselves (e.g, “What are your plans for the holidays?” “How are your kids doing?” “Where are you working now?” etc.)
Personally, I am happy to talk about my IBS and the low FODMAP diet, but I don’t want to talk about it for an entire party.
Tip #6 – Remember that the point is to see your friends/family/colleagues
Ultimately, the reason someone hosts a potluck isn’t to eat food – it is to get together with a group of people they care about. It can be frustrating that many social situations centre about food, but remember that the most important thing is the people.
I’ve skipped a bunch of get-togethers, and I really regret it now. It took me a while to realize that my friends and family cared way more about seeing me than what I was eating.
Tip #7 – Make your own low FODMAP version of foods
At the potluck you will likely see some foods that you really miss. Rather than telling yourself you can’t ever eat that food, tell yourself that when you are home you can find a low FODMAP recipe and make a safe version. If you are looking for low FODMAP recipes on google or pinterest, make sure they are actually low FODMAP by checking the ingredients on the Monash University Low FODMAP App.
Here are a few examples of tasty low FODMAP recipes:
Chocolate chip cookies (pictured below)
Let me know if you try out these potluck tips! If you have any tips leave them below in the comments for everyone to read 🙂