Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
The days are getting shorter, it's getting colder outside, and lights are showing up on rooftops and porches. It is officially the holiday season and that means it is officially office holiday party season! The office holiday party combines all things challenging with food intolerances: unknown food ingredients, the potential for creating social sigma, and awkward social interactions with people you see almost every day. What could go wrong?
In all seriousness, avoiding soy during the office holiday party can be challenging, but totally do-able with the right prep. Remember to bring a backup snack! We’ll consider two cases, the potluck and the catered event:
Catered Office Party
We’ve previously written about the many types of catered food (from buffets to rotating servers). At a holiday part with catered food, you may need to avoid anything that could potentially contain soy because it can be very difficult to find someone to ask about the ingredients. Follow our eating tips to avoid soy in breads, butter, oils, soy products, and soy lecithin. In a buffet, we recommend choosing fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and cheeses. If you need to, don’t be afraid to eat your backup snack.
Potluck Office Party
Potlucks are both easy and hard. Easy because you can bring a dish that is soy-free. Hard because it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the ingredients of the other dishes. Don’t be afraid to eat only your own food at a potluck. Just as with a catered event, you can make smart choices to find some soy-free food, but depending on the food available, you may need to play it safe and only eat what you know for certain is soy-free.
In either situation, it can feel difficult to tell your coworkers about the food requirements that you have. While this can feel very awkward and invasive, it doesn’t need to be a big deal. Simply explain to someone that you can’t eat any soy (and that you feel pretty bad when you do eat it). Remember that you are the expert! You know which foods are likely to contain soy and you are really just teaching them a bit about how you approach food. Your colleagues might be curious and ask you questions (“Hey, I noticed that you aren’t eating very much. Everything okay?”), but no one will be offended by your answer.
Being soy-free in a social environment can feel stressful and uncomfortable, but with a bit of prep and some smart choices it can be easy to enjoy the holiday cheer with your work friends. Happy Holidays!