Keeping Healthy During the Holiday Season

[A version of the below article was originally featured on Rudi’s Gluten-Free blog in November 2012 in response to an invite to participate in their “Baked On the Bright-Side” event. The article was revised (11.14.13) to include current company gluten-free info, and other helpful tips.]


The time is growing near when family and friends will gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Eid-al-Adha to name a few holidays celebrated around the globe. It should be a joyful time for all, but for the ever-increasing population of people diagnosed with celiac disease, food sensitivities and allergies, it can also be a time of anxiety and frustration. For some, it will be the first time venturing out to a family dinner, office party or friend’s soirée, since a diagnosis. Indeed, there will be challenges, but if you set out with an abundance of holiday spirit … and a positive attitude, you will be able to face any challenge with grace, confidence, and the occasionally required humor!


Following are a few suggestions to keep healthy during the holiday season:

Have no expectations of your Host(s) … that is, in regards to your dietary needs!While some hosts will cater to your dietary needs (& they should be commended!), not all will, nor should they be expected to.  Just be appreciative of the invite, and …

Be prepared (in case everything is off-limits): Have something to eat before heading out the door so you can sustain your energy throughout the event! You can also bring a small packed cooler bag with safe items to eat (purchase one that resembles a colorful handbag!). If you’re lucky, the food table will offer some fruits and veggies to snack on, but even then you will need to look out for cross-contamination. If you want to nibble on safe snacks, pack a small bag of your favorite gluten-free chips and something sweet, so you won’t feel deprived while watching others dig into the gluten-filled dips and pumpkin pie!

Never assume and don’t be shy: Never assume an item is gluten-free. Ask your host(s) the all-important ingredient questions until you are satisfied the item is safe, and if you are unsure, skip it … don’t risk it! ((Read up on products that contain gluten (what can’t I eat).

Contribute something (you prepared yourself): Consider trying out a new recipe for a gluten-free appetizer, entrée or dessert. There are so many wonderful holiday recipes on the web (check out our growing list of recipes HERE). Ask to have your dish placed on a separate table; or you can also be the first in line to scoop out your portion before it gets contaminated. You may want to carry a cooler bag packed with an individual portion of the dish you prepared.

Consider inviting guests to your home (your SAFE zone!): The surest way to keep food safe is to prepare it yourself in your own gluten-free kitchen!

Call ahead if the event is at a restaurant or hotel: Inquire if a gluten-free menu is available, or if your meal can be prepared as such. Follow-up with manager and server when you arrive to the venue. If the event is being planned by another party, take matters into your own hands and make the call yourself.

Avoid Overindulging:  If your gut is still healing, consider limiting portions (food & alcohol).

Check Out List of Safe Alcohol HERE.

Be Patient!If you hear comments such as “oh, you are on that FAD diet” … just take a deep breath, and

Spread Awareness of Celiac/Non-Celiac Gluten-SensitivityIf friends, co-workers are aware that you are unable to eat foods with gluten, you may be asked questions. Some have probably heard of “gluten-free” (how could they not these days!), but may not have heard of Celiac. Seize the opportunity to spread awareness, by sharing your story. By doing so you may be helping someone else (who is silently suffering) seek a diagnosis.

Have Fun!: Do accept those invitations to holiday functions that come your way!  Yes, be safe and never let your guard down, but don’t be fearful of venturing out. You can still enjoy many of the same holiday foods you once did, they just need to be prepared or purchased allergen-free.

YOU deserve to celebrate.

Happy Holidays!


Do you have any tips for staying healthy & Gfree safe over the holidays? Feel free to share them below.


If cooking at home, be sure to purchase a gluten-free turkey or ham! A basting solution which may have been injected into the turkey/ham during processing may contain gluten, as well as gravy or spice packages included.

Here are a few companies offering gluten-free turkeys, ham and deli items:

[Note: This list is not comprehensive, and certainly there are other gluten-free options available, but hopefully this will help you begin your search. It is highly recommended to review the company websites for complete allergen information, as well as rechecking product ingredients label at time of purchase.]


Empire (Kosher)

Honeysuckle White (msg-free) (not all products are gluten-free)



Plainville Farms: (organic turkey is GMO-free) Turkey & Deli meats

(turkeys are gluten-free .. turkey gravy and homestyle dressing contain wheat)

Shady Brook Farms: (msg-free)

Shelton’s (gluten & casein free)

Whole Foods: many all natural turkeys are free of gluten. Inquire at your local store.

Whole Ham & Deli Meats

Applegate Farms (dairy-free):

Boar’s Head (some dairy-free options):

Dietz & Watson: (99.5% meats are gluten-free, many soy free products):

Hormel: includes Jenny-O, Farmer John product lists)

Honey Baked (whole hams): “Our hams and turkey breasts DO NOT contain glutens.”

Jones Dairy Farm (dairy-free):

Thumann’s (only “all natural” line is gluten-free, dairy-free):

Wellshire Farms (turkey, ham & deli meats – read their gluten-free statement, some dairy-free options):





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On November 14th, 2013, posted in: CeliacCorner Blogs by
2 Responses to Keeping Healthy During the Holiday Season
  1. This article has been incredibly helpful in understanding gluten free and celiac disease. I have a student with it and wanted to understand what the implications are.

  2. This will be my first Thanksgiving since I was diagnosed with celiac. I am a little anxious because I am not cooking the meal myself, but I plan to give detailed instructions to my boyfriends mom. thank you for the above information which I found very useful.

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