Do’s and Don’ts of the Gluten-Free Diet Over the Holidays

Just when we are all ready to pack our bags for the holidays, preparing for your gluten-free diet (if you are following one) over the holidays also requires some consideration.

No matter what holiday you are celebrating this month, sitting around family members who may not necessarily understand the gluten-free diet you are practicing can be a challenge. The requirement to adjust traditional family recipes to your restricted diet might raise extra stress that you really don’t need.

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The Biggest Challenge

How to Remain Gluten-Free During the Holidays?

The Do’s of Being on a Gluten-Free Diet

No matter how long you manage to be on a gluten-free diet, the holiday temptations around the table are tough and challenging. The need to “justify” the reasons WHY you are following this diet is exhausting. Some of us skip the joy of the holidays to “save” the trouble, and others just fall into the “net” and get sick.

Either way, it’s not fun.

To continue eating a gluten-free diet over the holidays without adding extra stress, you just need to follow a few simple steps.

In today’s blog I gathered together some “do’s and don’ts” to ease your holiday experience while keeping your diet in check.

Useful Resource: Here is a useful link to see the Dietary Recommendations for Americans Issued by dietaryguidelines.gov to review how an ideal diet should be according to every age group.

#1 - Ask for Support

I always ask my client to surround themselves with individuals willing to take the extra step to support them. Explain ahead of the holiday meal your nutritional restriction to the host. Provide cooking help to lend support to them as well. Most people will take that extra step to have you around them during the holidays.

And don’t forget to thank them for their efforts to include your need for this holiday celebration.

#2- Put Your Cards on the Table #2- Put Your Cards on the Table

I hope you feel like the luckiest person in the room because you found your strength in your diet. Avoiding gluten, especially for celiac and/or gluten-sensitive individuals, is a health game changer. My best advice here is to put your cards on the table:

You will see that, truly, you were the lucky one in the room. 

#3 - Bring a Dish to Share

Create “safe” recipes to share with others based on your dietary restrictions. You will be surprised how many will complement the new dish, the freshness of the ingredients and the unique flavors you will share with them. Most of us enjoy new recipes, and I am sure if you prepare one, you may find many like you who would enjoy having safe meals during the holidays.

#4 - Learn to Say NO

Temptation is part of being a successful follower of the gluten-free diet. Learning to say NO and avoiding the troubles is one of the key factors to avoiding the flairs and the miserable feeling afterward when we “cheat.” Practice it. Exercise to ask for alternatives to prevent discomfort.

#5 - You’re Not Alone

Being on a gluten-free diet should not exclude you from family or social life. Yes, it does take some time to learn until mastering your nutritional need. Remember, focus on this holiday season, stay positive and celebrate life.

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Keep In Mind Things to NOT Eat on a Gluten-free Diet During the Holidays

The Don’ts of Being on a Gluten-Free Diet
  • If you use ham or any cured meat with glazes, most likely there is gluten in it
  • Brisket recipes often call for wheat or rice flourto thicken the gravy (that can be replaced with any nut flour of your choice)
  • Surprise, surprise, NOT all cornbread mixes are gluten-free. Most mixes will carry either wheat or rice flour.
  • The definition of what is TRUE gluten-free product is vast. Don’t make your decisions only based on the front labels. Reading back or side-label ingredients is a must to fit your body’s needs.
  • Here are some industrial words for hidden wheat ingredients – AVOID foods with these words.
    • Triticum vulgare (wheat)
    • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
    • Hordeum vulgare (barley)
    • Secale cereale (rye)
    • Triticum spelta (spelt, a form of wheat)
  • Hopefully, you are making your own soup. However, if you buy any creamy ones, be cautious that hidden ingredients like dairy, wheat, rice, oat, and soy could be there. My best advice will ALWAYS be: Make your own food.
  • If you are using cooking bagsor buying food made in a cooking bag, you want to know that wheat or rice flour is often used to keep the bag from exploding. Replace it with parchment paper nonstick cooking bags and save the trouble.
  • Stuffing is another concern you can easily take away by creating it with veggies of your choice ahead of time. It is easy to make while you are keeping tradition and family gatherings.

Gluten Free -Egg & Dairy Free Stuffing

Here is my best stuffing recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups of chopped (tiny) organic cauliflower
  • 1 chopped white onion
  • 1 chopped zucchini (cubs)
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of chopped trips of spinach
  • 2-4 Tbs of grape oil
  • ½ cup of gluten-free broth (you can use your own home-made broth as well)
  • Thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste

Note:

To ease the process, you could use frozen cut vegetables (you know I don’t like them, but … better to be safe than sorry)

Directions:

  • In a mid-size pan, sauté on low heat the cut vegetables over the oil, and stir for a few minutes (5-7m or till it gets soft, tender and a bit golden-not mushy)
  • Add your broth of choice, stir
  • Sprinkle the herbs, salt and pepper. Adjust to your taste if needed. Cook for 5 more minutes

Use as you do a stuffing in whatever recipe you are making and serve as you would like.

With some great gluten-free ideas, and extensive gluten-free recipes here, don’t forget, you’re in control.

Happy Holidays,

Chen

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