by Selena De Vries
The holidays can be a challenging time to stay gluten-free. But, with a few strategies in your back pocket, the holidays can be confidently enjoyed gluten-free! Here are three tips to try for your next holiday social.
1. Bring your own delicious GF dish to share.
This is a tried and true strategy that will ensure you have something safe to eat. Afraid the host may not approve? Communicate your concern by saying “I have celiac disease and even a tiny bit of gluten can cause me to feel extremely unwell. I have (an event, a presentation, a family outing etc) and it would be very unfortunate if I have to miss it because I’m ill. So, I brought my own dish just in case!” Something along those lines is always well received.
2. Be involved with the food preparation as much as possible.
Whether the event is close to home or far away, technology can be your friend! If someone else is taking the lead in preparing the food, make sure your voice is heard.
In a Kitchen: Physically help prepare the meal by showing up in advance of the event so you can have eyes on potential sources of cross-contamination and ensure all ingredients being used are gluten-free.
Away from the Kitchen: Talk to them on the phone ahead of time to help plan the meal, get family/friends to text you pictures of ingredient lists, Facetime with them in the grocery store, and let them know brand names of your favourite GF foods.
3. Be armed with confident communication skills.
Being able to politely decline food that has had so much love and effort put into it, is one of the hardest things to do as a celiac. Here are some example responses that you may want to try:
Comment: “What do you mean you can’t have these cookies, I made them special just for you!”
Response: Thank you so much for thinking of me. I really appreciate it. But, I have to be so careful as even something as little crumb can make me very ill for days. And, with the holidays, I just can’t risk it. Maybe next time we get together, we can bake cookies at my house!
Comment: Come on, a little gluten won’t hurt!”
Response: I wish that was the case, but unfortunately, even a little would cause my digestive system to be damaged. Just imagine one smartie split into 4 pieces. Just one of those quarters still contains 25x too much gluten for me to safely ingest! It really is such a small amount. So, I do have to be very careful about the choices I make and really appreciate your understanding