How to Survive the Holidays Gluten Free

Article Original Published in Hello Life Magazine

In a blink the holidays will be here. The festive lights, decorations, special moments, and the genuine heart that comes alive - undoubtably makes this my favorite time of  year! However, for those of us who have celiac disease or who adhere to a strict gluten free diet - all those fabulous parties can lead to stress, frustration and even fear.  Navigating the holidays and social scene can be undeniably complicated.  That is why I’m sharing six essential holiday survival tips. These are tips that I have learned over the years to once again make the holidays joyous and fun - even when gluten is poison to your body and cannot be on the menu!

Most likely the host knows that you are gluten free and they plan to add some gluten free goodies for you. It is important to be super respectful and loving but more than likely your loved ones are not gluten-free experts and will get some things wrong. So it is important to appreciate them for wanting to do something nice for you but, you can tell them that the best way to support you would be purchase a few of your gluten free favorites and not make a dish.

Bring your favorite dishes (and even your own serving utensils) to the party with you, so at least your food is safe for you; but, also bring enough food to share. Most people are curious about how gluten free foods taste and will want to try some. It is also important to remember to ALWAYS serve yourself FIRST, before any of the wrong forks get into your dishes.  

In addition, there are several gluten free beers, ciders and other gluten free alcohol options out there that you can bring to any party as well.

Items such as the fruit and veggie platters, cheese and nuts can be safe for those avoiding gluten. Bring your own gluten free crackers or meats as a backup and you’ll be fine.  Skip the dip, if you weren’t first to partake. Remember most sauces, casseroles, meatballs, deli meats, sausages, breaded anything are a no go for you.

This is still tough when friends and family make what use to be your favorites and they expect you to eat it.  Unfortunately, they do not understand the severity of your disease or condition. If you give in just this once, they will always expect you to have "just one bite". You teach them, how seriously to take your health.  It is all to easy to forget that it only takes 1/1000 of a gram of gluten (that’s equivalent to one crumb) to get into your system, to set off and trigger an immune system response in your body for the next three months. Is that one bite worth that? The answer is no!

I always suggest getting to the party early and help set-up the food table. This way, you can make ensure that the gluten free items are handled safely.  People don’t intend to contaminate gluten free food items but, mistakes happen. So please use your best judgment and when in doubt go without.

Yes, this is a huge undertaking! However, just imagine knowing everything is safe for you to eat. You can let your guard down once this holiday season. It is definitely an awesome option to consider over the holidays.