Around this time of the year, tons of holiday diet tips articles come out. Most of them tell you the same things – don’t stand near the food table, avoid high-calorie drinks like egg nog, have healthy snacks before a party, keep your will power strong.
Well, when you have to eat gluten free, things tend to go a bit differently. So here are the things that I’ve learned about eating during the holidays without getting sick, and still having fun!
1. Focus on the festivity
Sure, a lot of holidays revolve around the food we prepare, serve, and eat during them. However, it’s not everything. Even though you may not be able to eat grandma’s famous Christmas cookies anymore, you can definitely still make grandma a killer Christmas gift, or spend some QT with her while everyone else is in a sugar coma from the cookies. By focusing on the other aspects of holidays, you’ll still get the same amount of enjoyment out of them, maybe even more.
2. Eat what you can, whatever it is
Sure, you could stick to plain veggies and shrimp cocktail. But if you’re not trying to lose weight, then eat whatever is gluten free!
Fattening casserole? Yes!
Cheese platter? I’ll try one of each.
Ice cream? Double scoop please!
I’ve found that I usually can’t eat most of the “bad-for-you” foods at parties like rich desserts, pies, pizza, and appetizers. So, if there are things that I can eat, I’ll go for it even if it’s not something that fits into my usually healthy diet choices. There are enough times I have to say no, so if I can say yes, I will!
3. Bring something and be proud that it’s gluten free
I’ve made the mistake before of bringing something that’s gluten free and letting it sit around incognito. Then I realized that if I didn’t say something about it being gluten free there was a big chance for cross contamination (ie: you bring a dip and corn chips, and someone grabs a hunk of bread and dunks it right in the bowl). It also will help other guest who may have food allergies, and may even spark a discussion that could lead to someone discovering their own gluten intolerance.
Even if it’s not homemade, bringing a box of gluten free crackers, chips and salsa, or a bag of nuts even, will ensure that you have something around to keep you from starving.
4. Scope out the scene before the party
Hopefully you know the host of your party, and can ask them casually what’s on their menu (or ask them if they need help, can bring something, or offer a great recipe you have). If they’re planning on serving turkey pot pie for dinner, cookies for dessert, and beer to drink, then you know that you should probably BYOB and bring something substantial to eat (or eat more ahead of time).
If you don’t know the host well, then don’t bank on them having a full array of gluten free items for you to eat. Have a yummy mid-sized meal beforehand and then you can focus on having a few drinks, socializing, and having a few nibbles. Not every party also needs to be a feast (I have to remind myself of this one sometimes).
5. Be a good sport, but also take control
If someone gives you a cookie tin as a gift, for godsakes just take it! Give it to your mailman or something. There’s no worse feeling than having a gift rejected, so just be thankful. There is so much going on during the holidays that your gluten allergy is probably not high on people’s priority list. So, be a good sport and keep your holiday cheer up.
On that same note though – take control of the holiday season! Have your own gluten free party! Gluten free graham cracker gingerbread house making party? Gluten free cookie swap? Hot chocolate, popcorn, and Christmas movies? Throw a get-together yourself and you can run the show.
Hope you find these tips helpful! Also would love suggestions on anything that you do during the holidays to stay gluten free and also have a merry time!