One of the most difficult things about having celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten, is that many family members do not understand it. They may think you are just being fussy or following some new fad diet, especially if they do not understand the seriousness of the condition.
In what follows, are some ideas of making it easier to survive those family and holiday gatherings. These tips can also make it less awkward, and result in a more enjoyable experience for all.
1. Communicate before the gathering
Be sure to let the host, and the rest of the family who will be attending, know that you have special dietary needs to follow. Explain to them what it is, and how gluten affects you. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to give them all a patient handout sheet that explains it, as it lends more credibility to what you are saying.
2. If possible, host the gathering
If you are prepared to, you may want to host the gathering at your own home. This way, you can ensure that a completely gluten-free meal is prepared, without the risk of cross-contamination.
3. Eat before you go
If you are unable to host the event at your place, be sure to eat at home before you go to it. By eating before, you are ensuring that you will not be tempted to eat potentially unsafe foods, because of being hungry when there.
4. Take snacks and drinks along
Be sure to take along your own gluten-free snacks and drinks. If you will be drinking alcohol, be sure to research what kind of alcohol does not contain gluten.
5. Take a gluten-free dish along
You can take your own gluten-free dish to the gathering. Just be sure to serve yourself from it first, to avoid accidental cross contamination by others there. For example, the last thing you would want is for the spoon from the turkey stuffing to touch your gluten-free dish before you do.
6. Be prepared for questions
Despite communicating ahead about your condition and the importance of following a gluten-free diet, you are still likely to be questioned. It can be helpful to ensure that you have someone else there in your court, ready to support you and back you up if needed.
7. If in doubt, do not be afraid to say you cannot eat something
The host may have had good intentions of preparing a gluten-free meal for you, but unless that person is very familiar with what that all entails, do not be afraid to stick to your own food and snacks.