At Naturally Delightful, our services extend beyond the food creations that we make. Our Green Bay bakery is also a place where we invite conversation with customers about a variety of dietary topics.
One common question that we often receive around November and into December is, "What are some ways to stay gluten-free through Thanksgiving and Christmas?"
This is an important topic for those who follow a gluten-free lifestyle, but it is also very relevant to their friends and family who support them.
Part of what makes the holiday season such a special time of year is the many different ways that people celebrate. For some, the meaning is found in annual traditions like singing carols or going on horse carriage rides with the family. For others, it's the simple gathering together of loved ones. And for the kids, of course, it's often the mystery of what's waiting to be discovered inside a perfectly wrapped package under the tree.
But no matter how you ring in the holidays, there is one universal thing all festivities share in common: food....lots and lots of food!
All of the different dishes, desserts, and drinks are just another delicious part of the fun, right? However, if you or someone in your family is gluten-free, then you know that it's never as easy as just loading up your plate. Dietary restrictions can make things uncomfortable, inconvenient, and even stressful, all feelings that can wreak havoc on holiday spirit.
So here are a few simple tips for you to consider that will help you ring in the joy and keep out the gluten during this holiday season.
1. open up the lines of communication with your host
If you are traveling for the holidays, you are more than likely visiting someone who cares about you and has a genuine interest in your health and happiness.
So initiating a simple, friendly conversation in advance about gluten or celiac disease should not trigger any apocalyptic response to the relationship. In fact, most people are beyond receptive when it comes to accommodating a loved one's specific dietary needs.
Of course, you're not looking for someone to bend over backwards or create more work than is necessary. You're just trying to protect yourself, so part of the conversation can even involve simple requests or non-assertive suggestions. Little things that most people would maybe never even think of are huge considerations in the world of someone with celiac disease.
The sooner you communicate with the host prior to the event, the more relaxed everyone will be. Whether you prefer text, a phone call, or face-to-face, here is just one version of a possible conversation-starter:
"Thank you so much for hosting. I know all of the hard work that you've put into getting everything ready. I just wanted to share with you that I don't eat gluten, and there are certain foods and ingredients that I need to avoid."
Believe it or not, it's usually that simple, and you can let the conversation direct itself from there with any follow-up questions your host might have.
And as an added gesture of goodwill, you can even offer to bring some of your favorite gluten-free holiday options. Which ties perfectly into the next tip.
2. offer to help with the food
Bringing a dish to pass at a large, holiday gathering is just standard common courtesy. However, if you have a vested interest in the foods that are served due to your gluten-free dietary needs, this is the opportunity you've been waiting for. It's time to roll up your sleeves and show everyone just how delicious gluten-free can really be.
The list of Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes and desserts is a lengthy one, and you can prepare a majority of these recipes as gluten-free options for anyone to enjoy.
Below are a few cookbooks that are full of simple and savory gluten-free holiday foods for gatherings and feasts of all sizes.
Danielle Walker's against all grain celebrations: a year of gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo recipes for every occasion
3. offer to host the gathering
Hosting a houseful of guests for the holidays is not a task to be taken lightly. The preparation alone is a huge time commitment that comes with many stressors, from cleaning the house, to shopping, to preparing the food. However, with all of that being said, it also might be the option that provides you with the most peace of mind as it relates to staying gluten-free.
Hosting gives you more control in many areas to which you are otherwise susceptible as a guest, such as the menu and the arrangement of foods on the table. The latter is especially important to avoid cross-contamination with foods that are not gluten-free.
You also will probably have people asking what they can bring, in which case you can suggest plenty of foods that are naturally gluten-free:
4. Eat in advance (or afterward)
Although it's not the most ideal option, some people stay gluten-free during the holidays by just avoiding food altogether at the parties that they attend. They instead may choose to fill up on a meal that they can safely eat before the gathering, or later on when they return home.
Many beverages are gluten-free, including some that contain alcohol. So between sipping on a drink, and visiting with family and friends, there is still plenty left to enjoy, even when food is removed from the equation.
5. arrange to Bring your own food
Another choice you have if you are attending a holiday party is to simply carry in an individual serving of prepared gluten-free foods.
Pros: You're able to eat with everyone else. And this takes the risk out of trusting that, even though something is made gluten-free, it's not accidentally cross-contaminated once it is served.
Cons: This can lead to feelings of self-consciousness or judgement. Also, depending on how far you are traveling, hauling along a single-serving of a meal is not always convenient.
If you do choose to carry in your own dinner plate, it's a good idea to let your host know in advance so they can arrange a space for you to store it and then warm it. And as far as those feelings of being judged by the other guests, just remember that these people are your friends and family who will always have your best interest at heart.
visit naturally delightful over the holidays at our green bay bakery
If you are in the area this holiday season, or just in the mood to take a drive, come visit our Green Bay bakery and check out the selection of fresh organic, vegan, dairy-free, keto, and gluten-free goodies that we have to offer.
For our friends in Appleton and other surrounding communities around Green Bay, Naturally Delightful products are also featured at your local Festival Foods, Woodman's, and Bona Fide Juicery. And in Door County you can find us at Waseda Farms, Greens n Grains, and Blue Horse Bistro.
At Naturally Delightful, our mission is to help everyone, both within and outside the gluten-free community, continue to enjoy delicious varieties of food all year round, especially during the festive holiday season.