Gluten-Free During The Holidays
This year marks my first year being gluten-free for the holidays. Normally I allow myself to indulge in all of the season’s goodies that happen around this time of year – holiday potlucks, office holiday parties, happy hours, dinners with friends, and being surrounded by cookies and candy and sweet things non-stop. But this year is different for me now that I’m gluten-free. Here’s some of the key differences I’ve noticed.
- Office Goodies: If a vendor or client sends over a basket full of baked goods, I would typically go take a peek and eat some of it – whatever it may be. Cookies, muffins, cake, you name it, I’d try it. This year I have stayed away from all of it. There are still certain things I can have like chocolate and what not, but I am doing my best to only eat sparingly. And to be honest, I don’t really even crave that type of sweet stuff like I did a year ago. It’s interesting how your taste buds change.
- Peer Pressure: One thing that I have found hard about being gluten-free is that a lot of people just don’t understand. And that’s okay. I get it. My allergy is a silent allergy and I don’t get physically ill like I would if I had a peanut allergy for example. So because of that, people don’t really understand why I am so strict about being gluten-free. Here’s an example of how a typically conversation goes:
Person: Do you want a cookie?
Me: No, thank you.
Person: But insert name of their spouse here made it. They’re
homemade. You’ve got to try it. Just a little bite.
Me: No, thank you. I’m good. I am gluten-free.
Person: But I still don’t understand why you can’t try a little bite.
This gets tiresome but usually by this point the person either a) gets it or b) gives up. Usually it’s the latter.
- Eating Out- This is different for me all the time now, not just during the holidays. I used to eat a majority of my meals out at restaurants or picking up take out on the way home from work. Now eating out at restaurants gives me a bit of anxiety because I don’t know exactly what’s in my food. Even if I think what I am eating is gluten-free, there could be hidden gluten in the sauce or recipe that I don’t know about. It’s tough and this is something that has been a lot of trial and error for me. I usually ask the server if a food has gluten in it. Sometimes they are understanding, and sometimes they are not. It really depends on where I go but the added stress of having to pick wisely when I eat out has been heightened right now during the holidays.
Luckily there are so many gluten-free products, menus at restaurants, and awareness about gluten now that the above are not as hard as it would have been, say 5 or 10 years ago. We had a cookie exchange at work and some people brought in gluten-free cookies. A coworker gave me a box of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies as a holiday gift. Another gave me a cookbook for simple gluten-free desserts. It’s been really great. And I’ve learned which restaurants have a clear gluten-free menu and are gluten-free friendly. It’s a constant work in progress and I usually will know instantly if i may have been exposed to gluten. It’s become that apparent in me which is why I need to keep it up and stay strict and watch the ingredients in my food. And even though there’s tons of food filled with gluten flowing around the office, there are still plenty of healthy options for me to eat as well.
I am thankful for being gluten-free this holiday season because it’s given me a natural and built-in reason to skip the bread basket at meals, pass on dessert, and not gorge on holiday sweets that are left lying around the office. Being gluten-free has changed my life and I am proud to be gluten-free this holiday season!
How about you? Do you find it hard to be gluten-free during the holiday season? Post in the comments and let me know!