The holiday season is such a magical time of year. After the end-of-year rush, we get to sit back, relax, enjoy cruisey days with family and friends and, in Australia, soak up the summer sun! In a perfect world, the most stressful part of the holidays would be deciding what presents to get each family member. However, for those of us with severe dietary restrictions, having family and friends together to share meals means an exhausting process of either cooking everything yourself or spending hours briefing each of the family members. Then comes the food spread and the anxiety of… was anything cross contaminated?? Here are the yum. Gluten Free top tips for a safe, enjoyable and relaxing holiday season including a gluten free checklist and a discount on GluteGuard!
Anytime we dine outside of our own kitchen, we put ourselves at risk for cross contamination. In 2016, researchers from the Celiac Research Program in Harvard Medical School completed a study where the diet of 105 participants was monitored in aims of measuring the frequency and effects of accidental gluten ingestion. What they found was that 91% of participants accidentally consumed gluten at least once per month in a six-month trial. These were people on a “100% gluten free diet”, not those who were not intentionally consuming gluten for any reason.
The study also found the most common reasons why the participants were exposed to gluten. Whilst the majority of the subjects were unsure of what lead to the exposure (63%), problems ordering in restaurants contributed to 30% of the suspected gluten cross-overs. Frustration (7%), not wanting to offend the host (6%), embarrassment (6%), anger (3%) and a desire to fit-in (1%) occurred rarely. There were five participants (7%) who reported experiencing symptoms after intentionally consuming gluten because no gluten-free food was available.
These findings make it clear that even when we make the effort to phone ahead, ask our list of questions and get the best advice on avoiding gluten, gluten cross-contamination is always a risk when dining outside of our own kitchen. In addition to each of the precautionary steps listed below, we also recommend taking GluteGuard as a precaution to keep yourself safe this holiday season. During the holiday season when dining is often out of your control, GluteGuard will help to breakdown accidentally ingested gluten in efforts to prevent the very specific, toxic and immunogenic fractions of interacting with your intestinal lining and causing the symptoms we can all relate to. GluteGuard is not a reason to skip any of the below steps but just one more opportunity to keep yourself safe and well! Let’s make that gluten free list and check it twice, shall we?
Brief family and friends on your condition.
Send a mass email or Facebook message to everyone who will be gathering for Christmas. Briefly explain your disease or gluten sensitivity and emphasise the detriment of gluten cross contamination. Use seperate utensils, baking paper and foil to avoid accidental cross contamination.
Propose a Christmas Day menu
Put together a list of favourites (or family traditions) and grab some simple, gluten free recipes online. Show people just how easy it is to transition to a fully gluten free Christmas! Find brands that offer gluten free products as well for tricky items like gravy, sauces or anything that comes packaged. Ask people to sign up with what they’d like to prepare!
Simply ask who is comfortable catering for you
You would not believe how grateful people are to be equipped with information to enable them to make an informed decision. As a rule of thumb, people who are not comfortable cooking for those with dietary requirements will happily let you know if you give them the opportunity. Invite them to bring their favourite drink to share. From here, you will know what gaps you need to fill to make sure you’re getting a balanced meal on the big day. Feel free to invite family and friends to send you pictures of packaging ingredient lists if they are unsure. Remind them to check for “may contain” and “processed in the same facility” statements, as these are not safe!
The day is here! Here are a few tips to ensure a safe and happy day.
Take a digestive enzyme
Even after every single possible precaution, I always take the digestive enzyme, GluteGuard before eating food not prepared in my own house. You want to take this enzyme prior to eating so it can be released in your small intestine. This will help to breakdown the gluten that may be accidentally ingested. Whilst GluteGuard is not a replacement for a gluten free diet, it’s just one more opportunity to keep yourself safe and well! Please do all research necessary before incorporating any supplements into your diet. Personally, I take GluteGuard, available online world-wide. See below for our holiday promo code!
Arrange the gluten free food first
Now that you’ve briefed the family, checked labels and taking your GluteGuard, it’s time to arrange the table. When setting out the food, always be sure to have any foods with gluten in them last in the food line and grouped together (bread rolls, etc.) or on a separate bench to reduce the risk of cross contamination. This can easily happen by someone accidently using a serving utensil for a gluten containing food and then replacing it in a gluten free dish so be sure that each dish has its own serving utensil. Lastly, ask to serve yourself first and load up your plate! People are always hesitant to get the food train going, so take this as your opportunity to make sure you’re safely fed. Additionally, this way everyone knows that their hard efforts won’t go to waste by someone accidentally dropping bread roll crumbs in each dish on the way past. Now you can feel relaxed when you sit down knowing that every precaution possible has been taken for a safe and cross contamination-free meal.
Laugh, chat and enjoy the day!
Believe it or not, how we set ourselves up mentally and emotionally directly affects our body’s ability to prepare itself for food and be able to digest it as intended. I spent years struggling with food anxiety, to the point that I would be sick before I’d even had a bite! I have lots of information on yum. on my battle with food anxiety and how I overcame it. Once the above precautions have been taken, sit back and soak up the day. Most importantly, this is an opportunity to enjoy a special time with loved ones.
These are my top tips for a fantastic gluten free Christmas day! I hope this step-by-step list makes it simple and manageable to know that you can enjoy Christmas too. If you find yourself struggling with food anxiety, take proactive steps to address and resolve it. There are many ways to do this, so find what’s right for you. Talking about your experiences with supportive family and friends or simply dedicating time for a bit of meditation and deep breathing before events may be all you need to bring the fun back to the holidays and other social gatherings. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from yum. Gluten Free!
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*Silvester J. A. et al. –Symptomatic suspected gluten exposure is common among patients with coeliac disease on a gluten-free diet. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2016; 44: 612-619.
This article is sponsored by Glutagen. Please note, we only work with brands we support and use ourselves. All tips and suggestions, along with our recommendation of any product, are genuine from yum. Gluten Free.