During the holidays, those facing dietary restrictions due to medical conditions and/or food allergies can find it difficult to enjoy favorite holiday dishes. Those cooking for guests with dietary restrictions often struggle, as well, with what to cook for them.

To help, Chef Deb Cantrell offers the following 5 Tips:

1) Plan Early. Whether you’ll be spending the holidays with loved ones or hosting a feast at your own home, a little planning goes a long way.

2) Substitute. With food allergies or dietary restrictions, ingredient substitutions are important and, oftentimes, a favorite recipe can be used with success simply by swapping out an ingredient or two. There is a non-dairy, gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free and/or sugar-free substitute for almost anything. CLICK HERE for Chef Deb’s Healthy Ingredient Substitution List.

3) Take a Dish. At some point during the holiday season, you’ll most likely attend a party or even a sit-down dinner at another person’s home. Be sure to take a dish (or two) to share that you know you (or your child) can eat.

4) Speak Up! It can sometimes be hard to tell Grandma or the in-laws that you or your child can’t eat their famed dressing or pumpkin pie. Speak up early, rather than the day of the event, so there are no surprises or hurt feelings.

5) Get Help. Attend a cooking class or grocery shopping tour that focuses on helping those with special dietary needs. You can also find recipes in specialty magazines (such as Living Without), cookbooks and websites. You can also reach out to Savor Culinary Services for help.*

* For nearly a decade, Chef Deb Cantrell has prepared and delivered delicious meals for clients facing everything from diabetes to cancer to heart disease and severe food allergies. Through Savory Culinary’s personal chef and dinner party services, Chef Deb and her team can prepare and deliver fresh, delicious holiday dishes or meals that meet your specific dietary needs (such as gluten-free and/or dairy-, sugar- and soy-free). She also teaches classes and offers private tours and consultations to help others shop and cook for special dietary needs. Learn more at www.savorculinaryservices.com.