It is that wonderful time of the year again. Christmas and party season is already in full swing. Summer barbeques and the work Christmas parties have begun. It’s undeniably a fun time of year, but with a season of celebrating comes a little knot in your stomach. Knowing that all this socialising is going to be tricky to navigate when you need to be eating strictly gluten free.
To help you plan, we’ve put together our best tips for surviving the Christmas and party season gluten free. So that you can enjoy a happy and safely gluten free festive season!
Serve yourself First
A buffet style menu is great for us coeliacs and and those of us who are gluten intolerant! Plenty of items to choose from, hopefully lots of gluten free options. However, the risk of cross contamination is high in these scenarios if you don’t act quick. So - jump in at the start of the queue, make sure you get in before people start swapping spoons around and accidently dropping gluten into your gluten free options.
Talk to the caterer
There is never any harm in contacting the caterer or host to discuss your dietary needs and to see if they are able to provide you with food that is safely 100% gluten free. We recommend talking directly to the person preparing and cooking your food. Discuss with them the risks of gluten cross contamination and get clarity on every ingredient they are using. Often, they are aware of gluten free foods, but not up to speed on the risks of cross contamination. If you are going to someone's house rather than a venue, offer to bring a gluten free plate - something to share (but see above our tip on avoiding cross contamination in a buffet environment).
Bring your own food
Always the safest option. BYOF is an easy way to ensure that everything you consume at the christmas party or family catch up is gluten free. If you want a super easy, quick and delicious option, we recommend bringing along some of our yummy finger foods to the party. They are already pre-cooked, so you can simply reheat and have your own little tray of gluten free canapes to enjoy with the rest of the party guests.
From time to time, even when you have spoken to the caterer and taken all the precautions, you still need to skip the meal or canapes. For whatever reasons, you just can’t eat the food but you of course planned on eating at the party and your stomach is now starting to rumble. This is why you can never go wrong with emergency snacks. A little bag in your handbag or backpack with gluten free snacks to tie you over - keep it topped up over the festive season, you never know when it will come in handy.
If in doubt
Just don’t risk it. The host has gone to lots of trouble to cater for you, and it reads and looks gluten free, but you are just not so sure. If in doubt, we say, just don’t risk it. Cue the previous tip - emergency snacks!!
Eat before and after
While this one is sort of annoying, sadly, it is sometimes the only option. While it can feel like you are missing out and it can also introduce those annoying questions like, “surely a little bit won’t hurt?” (think of it as a time to educate rather than get cranky), don’t let moments like this dishearten you. This is Christmas and a time to celebrate and share fun moments with family and friends. Unfortunately, catering to a broad range of dietary restrictions is sometimes just not possible. For whatever reasons. Our policy on this is to practice acceptance rather than letting it get us down. Food and hospitality has come so far in such a short period of time. Now more than ever we are able to enjoy gluten free food safely in plenty of restaurants and out and about. However we still have a way to go, and on some occasions, it’s best just to accept the reality and focus on what is really important - catching up with friends, spending time with family or celebrating a great year with colleagues.
Become the Host
Why not host your own Christmas party, lunch or annual get together? Cater the food yourself (if you don’t fancy cooking, you can always look at our yummy gluten free finger foods) and relax and enjoy, knowing the food is safely gluten free.
Remember what Christmas time is all about
Whatever your beliefs are, Australian summer and Christmas is such a special and wonderful time of the year. Don’t let your gluten fears put a cloud over your time with your loved ones. Focus on your friends and family, don’t worry about the food. There are always ways around finding something you can eat, but time with family and friends is precious.
From all of us at Gluten Free Meal Co, we wish you and your family a very safe, gluten free Christmas.
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