The holidays often center around food, which can makes things especially difficult for those avoiding gluten. We have a few tips for surviving the holidays on a gluten-free diet to help make this time of year more enjoyable for everyone.
1) Talk to the host beforehand.
If you’re attending a holiday party away from home, make sure to communicate your allergies to the host. Suggest simple swaps that can be made to keep dishes gluten-free. For example, gravies can be prepared with tapioca flour or cornstarch in place of traditional flour. It’s also a good idea to ask the host and others bringing dishes to the event to save ingredient lists and labels so that you can make sure they’re safe for you to eat. Foods you may assume are gluten-free (such as meat and vegetable dishes) may contain hidden gluten products in the basting, dressing, or sauce, so it’s best to check the list of ingredients before digging in.
2) Reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
At large gatherings, there will be many people helping themselves to different plates, and it only takes one person using the wrong serving utensil to cross-contaminate dishes. To reduce this risk, you can ask if the host can label dishes as gluten-free or place them on their own small side table, away from the other foods. It may even be a good idea to serve yourself and other gluten-free guests first to reduce the chance that a gluten-laced serving spoon makes its way to what you thought was a safe dish.
3) Have a snack prior to the event.
It might not seem logical to eat something right before a big dinner party, but it’s a smart plan if you’re unsure what your options will be where you’re going. No one wants to have a hungry tummy when they’re surrounded by delicious-looking foods they can’t eat. Satiate your appetite ahead of time with one of your favorite gluten-free snacks. That way, you’ll be less likely to be tempted by foods you’re not entirely sure are gluten-free.
4) “When in doubt, do without.”
This adage offers sound advice to gluten-free dieters away from home for the holidays. Although your host may have the best intentions, they may not be aware that certain foods contain gluten, or they could unknowingly neglect cross-contamination precautions. It’s better to pass on a dish you don’t know for sure is gluten-free than to suffer the consequences later. It’s also nice to focus on the holidays being about spending time with the people we love; and the food aspect will seem less important.
5) Bring a variation of your favorite holiday dish.
Offer to bring your own dish to the event. You’ll have peace of mind knowing there’s at least one safe dish you can indulge in. If you’re new to gluten-free cooking, look for tried and true recipes. Gluten-free flours behave differently than traditional flours, so working with established recipes will help ensure you get the best results. Traditional desserts like cakes and pies are often made with wheat products, so you might want to bring your own gluten-free treat. When it comes time for dessert, you’ll be ready. Be sure to check out our certified gluten-free products for snacks, cooking and baking essentials, and more.
Do you have any tips for surviving the holidays on a gluten-free diet?