Holidays can be stressful for everyone. For those of us who don’t eat gluten, it’s worse because somehow gluten has become a staple ingredient in most dishes that are served, even though it’s typically unnecessary. The uncertainty factor can be nerve-wrecking and even maddening because you just can’t ever be sure where gluten is hiding and what might be contaminated that you just don’t go to parties altogether.
Truthfully, you shouldn’t feel that it’s impossible to enjoy holiday parties. Being uneducated about these kinds of public food gatherings can make them feel daunting, but if you’re willing to learn where some of the biggest pitfalls are and how you can avoid them, you’re golden!
How to Eat Gluten-Free During the Holidays
Remember – the holidays are about being with people and enjoying their company. To reduce your stress and frustration, you’ve got to take some extra steps to be safer with your food choice. Though you can’t wave a magic wand to change the course of what will end up at a holiday party, I can share with you FOUR of the biggest mistakes gluten-free people make this time of year.
Assuming the host remembers you’re Gluten-Free
Never, ever, EVER assume. Holiday parties are stressful for anyone who’s hosting. If you’ve ever done so, then you know this to be true. The reality is that rarely does everything go as planned. Sometimes dishes don’t come out right or the correct crackers or treats somehow didn’t make it into the shopping cart (and clearly aren’t anywhere in the house).
People have great intentions and sometimes they’ll get all the gluten-free options right. Other times, they’ll fudge it thinking that you just WON’T know it’s there. I’m not meaning to scare you, but these are the realities to which you’ve got to be present.
Remind the host of your gluten-free status and offer to bring a couple of dishes you know you can eat. Even offer some recipes that are festive and naturally gluten-free.
The dips are safe
I often chuckle silently to myself at parties because even though the dips served are inherently gluten-free (because I’ve double checked the ingredients with the host) along with the rice crackers next to them, those wheat crackers and potentially the toasted bread that’s also on the table will somehow end up in the dip as well. It’s human nature to grab what’s most familiar to you and never consider that all the finger food can’t mix with one another.
Thus, I assume that everything is contaminated. End of story.
Have two separate bowls of dips. Those for the gluten-free folks (or for other allergies) can be decoratively placed at a completely different table away from any gluten-containing foods, covered and well-marked. Though it may feel separated, I’d much rather be able to eat safely if and when there’s wheat at the party.
There will be PLENTY of food to eat…
Right…. There will be. But if your host isn’t used to catering to someone with a gluten issue, then there’s a good chance there won’t be all that much for you to eat. Plus you won’t be able to trust that they were REALLY careful while preparing everything.
Eat ahead of time and bring something. It sucks to be at a party STARVING and watching everyone else eat. By filling up ahead of time, you’ll feel more content to chill and chat with the other guests than obsess over food.
I can eat the chips!
With the rise in gourmet chips, you can’t assume that tortilla chips are safe. Many of these ‘fancy’ options contain gluten. Especially be wary of ‘multi-grain’ claims or the chip looks darker than normal.
Ask to see the bag and check out the ingredients. If any of the words from my BROWS acronym are present OR it is clearly marked as containing WHEAT, pass. Also, you can offer to bring a bag you’re sure you can eat with you to parties. Hosts love when people help out!