Eating gluten free can sometimes be a challenge during the holiday season. From mother-in-laws to failed recipe attempts many people find themselves overwhelmed and often dreading their gluten free holidays. I don’t believe that food intolerances should stand in your way of a successful celebration. Here are a few tips to stay healthy, happy, and most importantly, full during this holiday season.

When in doubt go without:
Gluten hides everywhere! Never assume something is gluten free, cross contamination is always a risk when eating at someone else’s home. Turkey’s are often made with stuffing inside, gravies are thickened with wheat flour, and it only takes a breadcrumb to trigger an autoimmune reaction. You are the only person responsible for the food that goes into your body. Don’t let someone peer pressure you into eating something that may or may not be gluten free. Trust me, the repercussions are NOT worth it!

Always be prepared:
If you are starving you might eat something that you will later regret. I always pack food in my purse or eat ahead of time so I’m never in desperate need of food. If you know where you will be spending the holidays, give the hostess a call ahead of time and let them know about your allergies or intolerances. If necessary let them know you will bring your own food. If you bring a dish for everyone to share, ask if you can serve up your plate first and don’t plan on going back for seconds. Shared utensils, fallen breadcrumbs, and gluten hands call all contaminate your food.

Offer to host at your home:
If you are able, offer to host the dinner at your home. This way you know what goes into every dish and you can be sure everything is gluten free. If others insist on bringing food, ask them to bring something that is naturally gluten free. Some options are fruit, vegetables, or drinks.

Let someone else do the cooking for you:
If you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have the time, you could always head over to our local gluten free restaurant, Eats & Treats Café. (www.Eats-Treats.com) They offer a wide variety options, including take out, and are always happy to take care of your gluten, dairy, and soy free needs.

With or without food intolerances, I know that the holiday season can be stressful. If you are feeling overwhelmed just try to remember what the holidays are really about. Take time to enjoy your family, friends, and the things that make you happy. When all else fails don’t forget that our local hard cider company, Two Town Cider House is gluten free!

Posted by Nadine Grzeskowiak, RN

Nadine is a 'food is medicine’ activist and is very proud of her work to educate all people about the power of food in health and wellness. Nadine is an expert consultant, professional speaker with over 1500 lectures to date, author of DOUGH NATION: A Nurse's Memoir of Celiac Disease From Missed Diagnosis to Food and Health Activism, podcaster, mom and former emergency/trauma/critical care nurse. Nadine is co-authoring her next book on the science of celiac disease.

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