By Daniela Fierini, RD​

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us, and with that comes eating, eating and more eating. Food is always a large part of any festive gathering. There is Christmas dinner, brunch on New Year’s Day, the Hannukah party, and of course, the office cocktail party. This can be a stressful, and possibly a lonely, time if you are undergoing treatment and feeling unwell. You want to spend time with your family and friends but you don’t have much of an appetite, food smells make you nauseous and your energy level is in the pits.

To help you out, here are some ideas on how you can still enjoy the festivities without it being an overwhelming experience.

​​​ Talk to your host

If you are invited for dinner but are afraid that the sight and smell of food will make you nauseous, speak with your host about your concerns ahead of time. Maybe you can join the gathering when it is time for dessert. Bring foods you can eat with you such as an angel food cake or gingerbread cookies with no icing. If your mouth is sore, consider the festive Panna Cotta recipe below.

​​​ Ask for small portions

If you want to go for dinner, ask the host if he or she can give you small portions or suggest that you serve yourself. This second option may be best if you have developed taste changes to certain foods.

​​​ Take a break

If you usually host the holiday meal but are feeling tired, consider asking a relative if he or she can host this year. Also, give some thought to purchasing ready-made holiday foods instead of preparing everything from scratch. A change from tradition is okay.

Your family and friends only want the best for you. Let them know what you are concerned about and together you can find a solution. They will be happy you asked.

Whatever you decide to do, may you have a peaceful and happy holiday season!

​​​ Panna Cotta Recipe

Adapted from 'Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen' by Judy Witts. This recipe is simple and quick to make. It can also be made up to 2 days ahead - just keep it well-covered and chilled.

​​​ Ingredients:

  • 4 cups heavy cream (or half-and-half)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 packets (roughly 4 1/2 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 6 tbsp cold water

​​​ Instructions:

  1. Heat heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  2. Lightly oil 8 custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil.
  3. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over gelatin and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
  5. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, and chill until firm. For best results, let stand for at least 4 hours.
  6. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.

​​​ Tips:

  • To save time, pour the Panna Cotta mixture into wine goblets or espresso coffee cups and serve "as is" without unmolding.
  • Serve with a huge pile of berries. If berries hurt your mouth, try drizzling the panna cotta with honey.
  • Garnish with fresh mint or cinnamon stick.​

Last reviewed: 10/24/2023
Last modified: 10/25/2023 9:30 AM
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