How to Navigate the Holidays When You’re Eating Gluten Free

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time when you’re navigating food avoidances, food sensitivities, or allergies on top of the usual holiday stress.

I’ve been eating gluten free (and many other frees!) for 10+ holiday seasons now and over the years I’ve learned a few things…

Here are some tips to help you stick to your diet, minimize stress, and still enjoy yourself through the holidays this year.

Be up front and explain. 

Tell those that you’re comfortable sharing with that this isn’t some latest fad diet to lose weight. That you’re doing this to feel better/get out of pain and so far it’s working so it’s important that you stick with it.

Remember, it can be hard for people who don’t have chronic health issues, chronic pain or health challenges of their own to understand what it’s like.

Crazy as it sounds, most of us don’t make the connection between what we put into our bodies and how we feel, until something gives and our eyes get opened to it.

Most the messaging we get from society, mainstream media, etc. only equate what we eat with our weight.

This is why it’s hard for most folks to understand changing your diet, or not eating something, for any reason other than weight loss.

You can also say my health coach is making me do it.

This can help especially in the beginning when a diet change is new and you’re feeling uncertain about it.

It’s totally OK to make your health coach (hi, that’s me!) or your doc the bad guy here.

Say something like… “My health coach says my _______ could be related to what I’m eating and the only way to know for sure is to try this. I know, crazy right?!”

Be clear about what you can’t eat…

And then help them out.

Many simply prepared dishes are just fine as is or things can be easily cooked in olive oil instead of butter if avoiding dairy, for example. These are easy swaps when you know about them; it’s just that most people don’t.

Offer to bring something… 

and make/bring something to share that you know you’ll be happy eating, even if it’s the only thing.

This roasted carrot salad is a crowd pleaser. Or for something sweet you can’t go wrong with these chocolate chip cookies.

I’ve got tons more ideas here in my GF & DF for the Holidays recipe book.

This way you know there will be at least one thing on the table that you’re 100% good with. Bonus, you’re sharing your new ways with others and you may just introduce someone else to a new favorite recipe. See below for ideas…

Give others grace.

Remember that seeing others make dietary changes can be triggering.

Know that snide comments, jokes, etc. are about them not you.

Seeing your change is like holding up a mirror – it reflects back to them. And most people know that they need to make a change but haven’t because it’s hard, scary and uncomfortable.

Stay strong and know too that just by sticking to it you’re showing what is possible, do-able, and you just might inspire them… without even saying a word. What a gift.

Breathe. 

I know how stressful this can all feel. Try not to stress though. (Believe me I know it’s like, um, yeah right!).

Stress is more inflammatory than food. Do your best, do all of the above and then let it go. Thank the food for its nourishment and your body for communicating with you.

Need some easy gluten and dairy free recipes that you’ll know others will love?
Grab my GF & DF for the Holidays recipe book.

It has 28 recipes that have passed the test and made it to holiday tradition status in my own family.

Some of my other favs in there are olive oil mashed potatoes, breadless stuffing, the brussel sprouts, roasted carrot salad, chocolate chip cookies, coconut macaroons, and cranberry and pear tart.

You can see the full list of recipes included here.

And if you want to test out a few first, you can download a free sample here.

When you purchase the book you’ll also be feeding another family in need this holiday – 20 percent of your purchase will be going to Feeding America.

Get the expanded Holiday recipe book here.

Megan Adams Brown

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