It’s that time of year again, holiday parties are in full swing. But what is the best way to stay gluten-free without feeling totally left out of the holiday celebrations?
I saw an interesting feature on the news about how to keep the holiday weight gain from creeping up on you. Eat before the party and bring a healthy dish -- the tips seemed to fit perfectly with how to stay gluten-free. So if you are feeling deprived, just think how much better you will feel when everyone else is making their New Years’ Resolutions to lose the weight they gained.
1. Eat before you go to the party – this strategy is especially important for work or other holiday parties where you don’t have a personal relationship with the host. It’s a common strategy for those of us with Celiac – someone even created a tshirt for us.
2. Bring your own gluten-free dish – It’s difficult for someone unfamiliar with gluten-free requirements to understand which ingredients are off limits. Depending upon the party, you can bring a meal for yourself or why not offer to bring some gluten-free goodies for everyone to enjoy?
3. Be aware of cross-contamination – even if some of the dishes are gluten free, it’s easy for someone to casually use the same serving utensil for gluten and gluten-free dishes alike. Last night I was at a party, ready to eat some delicious hummus and veggies the host had for me. Right as I was about to take a bite I saw someone dip a cracker from another table in the hummus. Luckily I saw it happen BEFORE I took a bite.
4. Talk to the host beforehand – You could ask them to set aside any gluten-free appetizers before they are “glutened” I always try to let the host know that I will be eating beforehand or bringing something that I can eat so that they don’t have to worry about my dietary restrictions. If you do bring your own dish or eat beforehand, let the host know you appreciate the effort and are really excited about the party but that you don’t want to add an extra level of stress to their party planning.
5.Call the restaurant a few days in advance – If one of your holiday parties is at a restaurant, check online to see if they have a menu. Call the manager and let them know when you will be there and what party you are attending. Ask what the options are and see if the chef can accommodate your needs. If it’s a prix fixe menu they need lead time to have a separate dish for you. If they are unable to accommodate you then at least you have enough notice to eat beforehand or bring something gluten-free.
6. Be part of the planning – If it’s a work party or a group gathering get involved at the planning stages and you may be able to have the party at a "gluten-free friendly" establishment.
7. Throw your own holiday party – make it all gluten-free and relax as you enjoy everything being served (though beware, you may have to make the New Year’s Resolution with everyone else)
8. Focus on the people not the food - that's the most important part of the holidays so try to enjoy all of the opportunities you have to celebrate with family and friends.