Gluten-free holiday strategies minimize stress

November 29, 2011 By Dell Rae Moellenberg

Holidays and food go hand-in-hand. If you follow a gluten-free lifestyle or will be with someone who does, the holiday season can present challenges.

Gluten is the protein in many cereal grains (wheat, rye, , spelt, kamut or triticale and foods that contain them) and can cause unpleasant side effects for those who are gluten sensitive. One in 133 Americans has triggered by gluten. If you live gluten-free—whether you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance or are one of many who feel better avoiding gluten--you don’t want to feel different or left out of holiday celebrations.

The heart of many holiday dinners is the roast turkey, dressing and gravy. Here are some tips to ensure that special dinner can be enjoyed gluten free:

• Though poultry is a safe choice many turkeys are injected with gluten-containing broth to plump up the turkey during cooking. Check the ingredient list to be certain the turkey was not processed with ingredients containing gluten.

• Stuffing can safely be made with gluten-free bread. Combine wild rice with cranberries, apples and gluten-free sausage for a different twist, or try a gluten-free corn bread stuffing.

• Gravy can be made with wheat-free or gluten-free bouillon cubes and can be thickened with cornstarch, arrowroot flour or ground flaxseed meal.

Those who are hosting parties may feel frustrated and unsure of how to deal with gluten-free dietary restrictions. One key point to keep in mind is that hosts often unknowingly cross-contaminate food while preparing for a meal, but with pre-planning, it’s not difficult to provide safe choices for gluten-free diets.

• Serve food buffet style. Put gluten-free foods on a separate table rather than co-mingling all dishes. Dipping a wheat cracker in the hummus instantly contaminates it for the gluten-free guest. Be certain serving spoons are not switched between the separate tables.

• During meal preparation keep gluten-free foods separate from other foods. Something as simple as a dusting of flour over what was intended as a gluten-free dish or contaminating serving and eating utensils can trigger digestive problems for the gluten sensitive person.

• Read all ingredient labels prior to meal preparation and keep the labels for gluten-free guests to check if they wish.

• Ask other guests to bring ingredient labels or food packaging for gluten sensitive guests to check.

As the guest you can ease the stress of menu planning for a special diet for your host. Offer suggestions to simplify navigating gluten free food preparation.

• Offer to provide a list of safe foods: fruits, veggies, beans, low-fat dairy products, seafood, poultry and lean meats, nuts and seeds. Rice, potatoes, corn, oatmeal and quinoa are gluten-free. Stress that labels need to be read to be certain they were not contaminated during processing.

• Provide a list of typical gluten containing foods such as soy sauce, salad dressings and beer.

• Offer gluten-free alternatives that can easily be substituted in many recipes. For example, use rice noodles in place of wheat noodles in pasta dishes.

• Suggest a recipe complete with a list of safe ingredients, including where they can be purchased to save time for your host who may want to prepare a dish to fit your dietary restrictions.

• Bring a gluten-free dish to the party that everyone can enjoy -- and be cautious that your gluten-free dish is not unknowingly contaminated during the event.

• In place of the usual hostess gift order a gluten-free dessert you can bring or have delivered in advance.

• Pack your own mini-meal. Make it simple—a roasted game hen and several side dishes you can enjoy without worry.

• Consider eating in advance to alleviate your own concerns about what will be safe to eat. Let your host know you are excited for the party but want to minimize stress for both your host and yourself. This strategy works well if you are not well acquainted with your host.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed as gluten-intolerant or with Celiac and you are not convinced you can handle a misstep in a potential mine field of gluten-containing foods, hold the holiday celebration at your house. There you’ll feel comfortable knowing you can eat gluten-free. You may even amaze your friends and family with the tasty, abundant choices you offer. Though the can be fraught with stress—whether guest or host—these tips can help refocus gluten-free stress onto enjoying people and time together.

Explore further: Celiac patients face potential hazard as information on cosmetic ingredients difficult to find

Related Stories

Celiac patients face potential hazard as information on cosmetic ingredients difficult to find

October 31, 2011
The lack of readily available information about cosmetic ingredients may cause patients with celiac disease who use lip, facial or body products to unknowingly expose themselves to gluten -- an ingredient they need to avoid, ...

Recommended for you

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.