Whether it’s your first or your tenth holiday season being gluten-free, this food-filled time of year is when new tricky situations can definitely come up. Relatives and friends visit from out of town, and parties happen with people we may not know too well. Your close friends and relatives probably know about your need to be gluten-free, but these are times when people may be around who really don’t know much about it. Or maybe they have the general idea, but don’t totally understand the important details. And since they can be people you don’t know so well, you might feel less comfortable telling them the details of just how important your gluten-free diet is to you and
Here are some tips to help keep you gluten-free and happy right into the new year:
Plan ahead with your family to have some of your favorite gluten-free holiday treats in the freezer or on your pantry shelf, so you always have something delicious that is handy to bring to last minute holiday parties or school events. This way you can enjoy your treat and the party, instead of worrying about whether the fudge someone brought that MIGHT be gluten-free touched the (gluten-containing) sugar cookies on the other side of the plate or not.
If visitors are coming who don’t know much about being gluten-free, find a time to have an un-rushed conversation with them about it, and don’t wait until the day before (or day of!) a big family meal. They’ll actually be glad to know about something that is so important to your health. Your parents will want to join in too.
Think ahead about what you could say in situations that might come up. Having ideas in the back of your mind will help you feel comfortable and confident. Here are a couple of possibilities to get you thinking:
Your aunt visiting from out of town doesn’t know too much about being gluten-free. (She’s been told by your parents over the phone that you are gluten-free.) She arrives with a pumpkin pie that has a non gluten-free crust and says “Oh, I know you have to be gluten-free – so I asked at the bakery and they said there is no flour in the filling, so you can just scrape out the filling and not eat the crust!”
Thank her for thinking of you, but at the same time let her know that this won’t work for you. It’s always absolutely okay to say “no thank you.”
“Hi, I’m so glad you came to visit over the holidays. Thank you for thinking of me, that’s really nice. I need to say ‘no thanks’ this time since even a really small amount of gluten can make me sick; I can’t eat anything that was even touching anything with gluten. I know it’s hard to believe, but just a teeny tiny amount of gluten in a food can cause problems for me. I know my mom has some desserts I can have, so don’t worry that I won’t get any!”
You’re at a community holiday event and a festive looking “elf” hands you a gluten-filled treat along with a big “Happy Holidays!”
It’s really about the spirit of the get-together, not the food, so enjoy sharing the time with your friends or family, and reply with a “Thank you!” and “Happy Holidays” of your own. If, let’s say, cookies are being quickly handed out, it might be a little harder to say no (before you realize you’ve been handed a cookie!), but you always can. Just say “no thanks!” What if you’re with neighbor kids who you think will wonder why you didn’t want the cookie, and you’re just not in the mood to explain to them? You can always accept the item and then give it to a gluten-eating friend who knows you’re gluten-free (or otherwise get rid of it). Remember, it’s about watching out for YOUR health, and doing what seems comfortable for you!