3 Tips For Surviving Gluten-Free Holidays

I am happy to report that I have successfully made it through my first ‘holiday’ season as a diagnosed Celiac! It was not nearly as hard as I imagined it would be. But if I was going to offer tips to my fellow gluten-free folks, I would have three suggestions:

1. Always offer to bring a dish when going to a guest’s house to eat. 

This is a great way to know that there will be something gluten-free for you to eat. You can even bring two dishes if you want to have options. Don’t go the easy route and only bring dessert. Make sure what you bring will be enough to fill you up for the evening, so you aren’t miserable…and ‘hangry.’

2. Bake gluten-free treats for your co-workers, family and friends.

This is the perfect time of year to show off how delicious gluten-free food can be. Even though there are tons of great options out there, most people think that gluten-free eaters are deprived. Prove them wrong by bringing the best gluten-free recipe you’ve got!

3. Mentally prepare to ‘turn down’ all the gluten-filled desserts offered to you.

This can be really hard, especially for new gluten-free eaters. Although the cake and cookies look good right now, your health is your first priority. Its not worth jeopardizing your diet for temporary (and I mean very temporary) satisfaction.

Also, as a side note, I finally got my Face of Gluten Free Contest finalist shirt in the mail! I literally jumped for joy when I opened the package. I have never felt more proud to be gluten-free!

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Nutritionist Knows Best

Today, after over a week of struggling through my gluten-free diet without any guidance (except for the Internet), I finally got to meet with my school’s athletic nutritionist. Although the Internet taught me a lot of background information, I am happy to report that I have clarified some of the inconsistencies the Internet provided. I also got some great ideas for my everyday life!

The first thing I am thrilled to have learned is that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are gluten-free! Special holiday Reese’s and Reese’s Minis may have gluten-containing products, but the normal Reese’s are perfectly fine for Celiacs.

Second, I confirmed that most lunch meat does contain gluten, because of the way it was processed. However, there are gluten-free lunch meats, you just need to get them from the deli. My nutritionist specifically recommended Boar’s Head Lunch Meat, which is all gluten-free.

Third, I cleared up which types of alcoholic beverages I can drink. Because I have been in dry-season (a period of time where we do not drink before a big swim meet) since I started my gluten-free diet, I have not faced this problem yet, but I wanted to clear it up before I decide to hit the bars after my meet. Beer is a definite no, which I already knew, except for the specific gluten-free brands. Vodka is questionable, and my nutritionist recommended not drinking it at all, but especially not drinking any vodkas with flavoring. This explains the inconsistencies I have been finding on this topic online. Wine is safe, so I guess that is my new go-to beverage when I am out on the town. Classy, I know.

As for the rest of the meeting, I gained some new ideas about what to eat on a daily basis. I am excited about my nutritionist’s suggestion to have smoothies for breakfast. That sounds pretty yummy. I am also excited to buy some True North Nut Clusters. She had a big bag from Sams Club in her office, and they were delicious and gluten-free!

The nutritionist’s main advice to me is that I can pretty much eat most foods I want, I just can not eat them mixed together. No more casserole-type foods for me! She suggested eating 25% meat, 25% carbs (rice, beans or potatoes) and 50% fruits or veggies (because they are ALL gluten-free) for dinner every night.

Gluten-Free Tip: Keep A Sweet With You At All Times!

I am officially one week into my gluten-free diet, and I have made it through with only one major temptation. I have had numerous minor temptations, but they have been easy to overcome. For example, I have three gluten-eating roommates. When I walk upstairs into the kitchen and see a bag of pretzels opened, I have moments when I forget I can no longer eat them. As soon as I start to walk over to the bag and grab a handful, I am reminded by the annoying voice in my head that those pretzels are not gluten-free. I sulk for a moment, and then move on to my trail mix or cheese sticks.

However, I did experience my first strong desire to cheat on my gluten-free diet. It was unbelievable. I got to the office for my internship and went into the conference room for a staff meeting. Sitting in the middle of the table was a half-eaten, decadent double-layer-chocolate-cake with a cherry filled center. It smelled and looked incredible. To make matters worse, I unknowingly picked the chair right in front of the cake, so it was staring at me the entire meeting. Lucky for me, no one in the office was eating the cake at the time, because that would have been too much for me to handle. In the end, I resisted the urge, but I have come to the conclusion that I need to leave some chocolates in my purse for situations like this. I do not want to feel as though I am depriving myself. Nor do I want to seem like ‘that’ girl who always turns down cake!

As for the rest of my week, I have made it through without any major problems, and I have come up with lots of blog topics, so stay tuned for those. Also, I am starting to develop a routine, and I am becoming comfortable with this drastic life change I am undergoing. I understand that I do not really have a choice, so I need to learn to love it.