5 Tips for Navigating Your Gluten-Free Christmas

Following a gluten-free diet can be challenging, especially during the holidays. A Christmas table can contain both gluten and naturally gluten-free foods. However, you can undoubtedly navigate Christmas gluten-free with enough knowledge about gluten-free eating. This article will give you tips for a gluten-free Christmas so you can enjoy festive times to the fullest.

Key takeaways:

What is gluten?

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Gluten is a protein found in some foods, including wheat, barley, rye, durum, spelt, emmer, semolina, and farro. It's the protein that creates elasticity in dough; therefore, most baked products made with flour contain gluten.

Gluten is not unhealthy for most people; however, it can cause health problems in people with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and celiac diseases. Therefore, a gluten-free diet is a necessity for people with gluten-related conditions.

5 tips to navigate your gluten-free Christmas

Navigating gluten-free nutrition can be challenging, but you can still enjoy festive times with careful planning. Here are some tips that can help you:

1. Talk to your host about your nutritional needs

You can talk to the host about your dietary requirements. If they offer to prepare gluten-free foods for you, ensure they're knowledgeable enough to distinguish gluten-containing foods from gluten-free foods.

2. Offer your host help

Preparing a Christmas dinner is not an easy job. The hosts will likely prepare many foods for at least a small gathering of family and friends. Offering your help is not only beneficial to them but also to you. You can help create gluten-free foods and see how other foods are prepared to know what to eat and avoid.

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3. Bring something

Bringing food is a great gesture and will give you peace of mind if nothing on the table is gluten-free. You can get gluten-free versions of traditional Christmas foods or your signature gluten-free food, so you know everyone would love it.

You can choose a meal, dessert, drink, or all if you're sure you won't find gluten-free food on the table. You can make gluten-free butternut squash soup, which gives festive vibes. How about Christmas pudding, which is easier to make and also delicious?

For drinks, you can bring gluten-free alcoholic or non-alcoholic gluten-free mulled wine with your choices of juices, fruit slices, cinnamon, and sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

4. Ask about ingredients to spot naturally gluten-free foods

Before eating foods that look gluten-free, always ask the host for the ingredients. For example, although turkey is naturally gluten-free, its sauces are generally not.

5. When eating out, ensure the restaurant has gluten-free options

It's best to call a restaurant beforehand to be sure they prepare gluten-free foods and don't contaminate them with gluten during the preparation, cooking, and serving process.

Common foods containing gluten

If you first know what foods to eliminate, navigating a gluten-free Christmas will be easier. Gluten-containing foods include but are not limited to:

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  • Wheat and wheat varieties such as durum, einkorn, emmer, kamut, and spelt
  • Barley
  • Brewer's yeast
  • Malt
  • Rye
  • Semolina
  • Triticale

Christmas gatherings contain many baked foods generally made from gluten-containing flour. You should ask your host about food ingredients.

Some traditional Christmas foods and drinks that can contain gluten are:

  • Gravy — turkey is usually served with gravy made from flour, fat, and stock
  • Candies
  • Cookies — generally made from wheat flour
  • Foods including processed meats
  • Alcoholic beverages made from gluten-containing grains that are not distilled

Gray zone: foods that may contain gluten

Naturally gluten-free foods can get contaminated with gluten. Oats are most likely to get contaminated in the production process, so it's recommended to consume oats labeled as gluten-free if you have gluten-related intolerances.

It can also happen if the same utensils are used to prepare or serve foods. The preparation, cooking, and serving of gluten-free foods should be separated from those of gluten-containing foods.

Naturally gluten-free foods

Luckily, you can enjoy naturally gluten-free foods after ensuring they aren't contaminated with gluten.

Fresh, gluten-free foods include:

  • Nuts
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Fruits
  • Meats, fish and poultry
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Note
Check the packaging for processed nuts and meats, which can contain gluten.

Although some grains contain gluten, most grains are gluten-free, such as:

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Flax
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Teff

Most baked products are made with wheat because gluten gives them an elastic structure. However, you can consume baked goods made with gluten-free flour, such as beans, corn, potato, rice, and soy flour.

How to ensure a product is gluten-free?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), gluten-free products should contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. Labels including 'gluten-free,' 'no gluten,' 'free of gluten,' or 'without gluten' are used to indicate gluten-free products.

Before consuming packaged products:

  • Choose the product with a 'gluten-free' label. To be sure, look for a label indicating the product does not contain gluten.
  • Check the ingredient list. Look at the ingredients to see if there are any gluten-containing foods. Some packaged foods do not contain gluten-containing ingredients; however, they may get contaminated during the process, so check for warnings on the package.
  • Be careful that wheat-free is not always gluten-free. Some products can be wheat-free but contain other gluten-containing ingredients.

FAQ

Remember, you can enjoy Christmas while following a gluten-free diet. It's possible to eat, drink, and share memories to the fullest without sacrificing your health by planning ahead and getting prepared.


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