How to deal with the holiday meals when you’ve got celiac disease

dealing with the holidays as a celiac

Good news: It’s the holidays!
Bad news: You’ve got celiac disease.

Good news: You’re invited to Aunt Enid’s for dinner!
Bad news: Aunt Enid doesn’t really get the whole celiac thing.

What’s a celiac to do?

Listen in (or listen up…not really sure of the difference) as I present a few scenarios with multiple options. And let me know what you would do. Or did.

Podcast Transcription

Ho, ho, ho, ho, hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season. It is December 23. This is Episode 11. Check my notes. It may be 12. I’m not sure. It’s the holiday season. I’m exhausted.

Today, we’re gonna do something a tad different. Instead of reading one email, I’m gonna put all the emails together over the years that I received about the holidays, and what the hell to do for meals during the holiday season. As you know, this is a sticky point for a lot of us celiacs and gluten freebies. Do we stay home and make a meal for everyone? Make a meal for ourselves? Do we go out and trust the person? Bring our own food? It’s a crazy world out there folks. So let’s talk about it.

So I’m going to create an imaginary character, and we’ll call her aunt Enid. Now aunt Enid does not really get the gluten free thing. Doesn’t really think Celiac disease is that serious and doesn’t like to be put out by others dietary restrictions. And you may be wondering why I’m using the word in it or the name Enid; Enid was my mom’s name. Bless her heart. Good person; always meant the best but a tad difficult, a tad challenging and most likely had celiac disease. She had Addison’s disease in her early 40s, which is the same disease that JFK had; always had some serious health issues and passed away at a much too young age of 70 something. So this is in a way in respect for my mom and also understanding the challenges of being my mom’s son. So aunt Enid is the person we’re dealing with here.

And I’m gonna assume the person who is gluten free has celiac disease is Susan. Well that doesn’t sound Christmassy. What’s a good Christmas woman’s name? Chrissy sounds like Christmas. So Chrissy has celiac disease. Now, there are two scenarios for the holidays. Scenario One, Chrissy is hosting dinner for 1000 people. No she’s hosting dinner for say 15 People; her immediate family, her extended family and yes, that includes aunt Enid. And for this podcast we’ll assume that COVID does not exist but Lord knows we all know COVID exists and exists and exists and exists. So Chrissy is hosting.

So Christy has two options. Chrissy can make everything gluten free. This way she in charge and there’s no gluten in the kitchen and no gluten in the meal but aunt Enid may give her a hard time. Or she can make her meal separately from the normal meal for everyone. Now if you’re Chrissy what do you do? Now you love Aunt Enid, God bless her soul, she’s good people. I’ll give you five seconds to think about this though. I’m sure I know your answer. Actually, I could do an option three and not invite Aunt Enid. But that’s not nice. So obviously option one you make the entire dang dinner gluten free. You got to make some adjustments that’s fine. Can’t do stuffing? Big whoops it’s one little part of a meal. So this way Chrissy can just, I would say kickback, but lord knows you don’t kick back on the holidays making making meals and cleaning up. So hopefully Chrissy is hosting and has a wonderful holiday. Merry Christmas, Dear Chrissy

Now scenario two. Chrissy was invited to someone else’s house, and that someone else was Aunt Enid and Enid loves hosting parties. And she loves spending time in the kitchen. So this is a dream for her. But I’m Chrissy and I’m a little wary of going to an Aunt Enid’s house for the holiday. So what do I do? Well, option one is ask Aunt Enid to make everything gluten free.

I think you all see the red flags with this. Aunt Enid probably doesn’t know what gluten free actually means. In a sense I’m sure she knows what it means but to take all the preparations to avoid cross cross contact. That cutting boards the flour, blah, blah, blah so odds are Aunt Enid is not going to make the whole thing gluten free. She’s kind of set in her ways and a little stubborn. Yes like my mom. Love you mom. But she’s not going to do it.

Now, you could ask Aunt Enid to make her regular meal, but just make yours gluten free and you give her all the instructions of what to do since it’s a small little meal that maybe she can take care of just Chrissy. Now, if Aunt Enid can’t do the whole meal, it’s very doubtful she can bring up she could make a little meal for Christie. So that’s out of the window. Option three, you bring your own food, Ding Ding, ding, ding, ding ding, we have a winner. This is your best option folks.

Well there is an option A and that is to eat beforehand. But that kind of sucks for holidays, everyone’s around the table and you want to partake in it. So let’s say eating beforehand is not a good option. So option three B is bringing your own food. Folks, there ain’t nothing wrong with this. If the focus is on the food during the holidays, then you’re looking at the picture entirely wrong. The focus should be on the celebration of the people, on the year behind you and the year ahead of you. The food for a celiac, and this is me saying this not Chrissy, should be an afterthought. Take the focus off the food, put it on the people, put it on the celebration. Embrace Life, enjoy life, enjoy the party. And that’s how you make the holidays work for you.

Now of course option four is screw Aunt Enid and just don’t go and stay at home with your immediate family or even by yourself but that would make Chrissy very very sad. Chrissy likes the family. She loves Aunt Enid too, though she can be quite challenging at times; kind of like walking on eggshells. Yes. Again brings back memories of my mom. Love you mom. Seriously. I do.

So there you go. Happy holidays, everybody. Merry Christmas. I’m just so happy. I can say Merry Christmas again. Oh my god. It’s like such a weight off my shoulders. Yes, I am totally kidding. The most ridiculous argument in politics ever, ever, ever. And that’s saying something. So Happy Holidays folks. Love you all and catch you next week. Bye bye.

And that my friends puts wrap on episode 12 of Dear Gluten Dude. Yes, Episode 12. I checked it after my podcast and before I recorded this so we know it’s episode 12 I’m so excited. I have not mentioned my app in this podcast. I always like to throw that out there. If you want to give Gluten Dude, wonderful Christmas present, download the app. It’ll help you find restaurants, find beer, connect with each other, get answers to your questions, get coupons online and much much more. It is a celiac’s dream come true. Happen New Year folks. Merry Christmas. See you next time.

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1 thought on “How to deal with the holiday meals when you’ve got celiac disease”

  1. My family consists of me (gf), one daughter/husband who are strict vegans, and other daughters are just regular food, one with a shell fish allergy. How do we do it? Easy! We keep everyone happy no matter whose house we are at for Thanksgiving or any meal. The vegans provide their own food. The veggies can easily be made gf- no problem. We make the protein (usually turkey), and the gf stuffing (Aleia’s brand is everyone’s favorite), and desserts run the gamut. Everything goes on the table at once: for the vegans, we make sure the chicken /turkey is already sliced or cut up. (“no bird on the table!”) They are all good about avoiding CC for my sake, careful about not double dipping, or switching serving utensils. We have made this work now for at least ten years. maybe more. After they saw me sit there and cry the first year (2007) when I couldn’t eat anything but some plain string beans and mashed potatoes- they got it. We have not had a problem since, and they make sure anything I eat is safe. If I am going anywhere else and it’s a hot meal- I would bring my own food in a nice flat container, heat it up and have it on a plate, at the table with everyone else. I never trust anyone without a gf kitchen to provide my food. It’s just not worth the chance. And don’t make a big deal out of it- because it’s not a big deal at all. You are there to be social not worry about the food .

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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