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A Guide to Surviving Holiday Parties With Celiac Disease

If you’re looking at this article, chances are you or a loved one has gone through this. The constant pain. The cramps. The bloating. The bodily fluid explosion. And the fact that it lasts multiple days.

I’ve had many people tell me Celiac disease is made up. “It’s just the newest diet fad. Are you sure you have it?” I mean, after all, “It can’t really be that bad, can it?” We’ve all heard these things, and they are in no short supply during the holiday season as we all gather together to catch up and eat delicious food. But we know the reality of this disease, and that causes us incredible amounts of stress during the holidays.

I’ve had a gluten-free Thanksgiving and Christmas for about four years now. It is very stressful in general to host these types of events, let alone making one entirely gluten-free. But it can be done! And very few of my guests even knew the food was gluten-free! However, in case you’re not up for that challenge (which is definitely all right – you’re even more of a champion for accepting the challenge of going elsewhere to eat), here are some tips I’ve compiled for a large-scale eating party.

1. Offer to host. This cuts out the gluten-related stress with potlucks and big dinner parties. If you host, you’ll know what is being put into the food and can make items you know are safe to eat!

2. If you decide not to host this year, tell the host/guests about your dietary needs. Most people are incredibly accommodating. They want everyone to have a great time at their house. They will likely have a lot of questions, but that is because they care. Don’t get frustrated!

3. Offer to help with the cooking. If you’re not hosting, this will allow you to see first-hand what is being prepared. If it is a potluck, bring something filling for yourself so you’ll have at least one or two items you know will be safe to eat. Just make sure to also bring and label your own utensils for serving!

4. Bring a bottle of gluten-free alcohol to share. I go for wine, but that’s because I like nothing else! This way, you’ll know there is something besides water you can drink. Plus, wine and holidays are a perfect combo. But make sure if you do bring wine that you bring some food, too. Alcohol on an empty stomach is a whole other problem we’d have to worry about (and we’re trying to make this less stressful!).

5. Don’t be afraid to say no. Grandma is very convincing with that bowl of mac and cheese, but the firmer you are, the less she will offer. As with “GF” foods? Eating GF products seems like a good idea, but those can still have microscopic amounts of gluten in them. If you eat multiple, those amounts add up and can potentially cause you harm.

6. Another option is to eat before you arrive. This can entirely eliminate the possibility for cross-contamination of anything you may eat. Plus, you’ll be full, so you likely won’t crave the foods already there.

I hope this finds you well this holiday season, or can steer you in the right direction and take some stress away from an already stressful time. Happy holidays and well wishes into the New Year!

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Image via Thinkstock.