nutcrackersI’ve been gluten free for over five years. Most of the time I think I have this lifestyle down pat. I can easily name 20 gluten free flours, describe the inner workings of xanthan gum, and recite how to make fab waffles using Gluten Free Bisquick. Then the month of December arrives with a slew of gluten-filled holiday party invites. Fear sets in. How can I avoid glutening myself? Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, I’m picturing accidentally eating gluten and spending an embarrassingly excessive amount of time in my host’s restroom. Then I remind myself that there’s no need to panic; with some pre-party planning, we can successfully navigate through the holidays gluten-free!

1. Let your host know that you are gluten-intolerant and offer to bring a gluten-free dish. This guarantees that you will be able to safely eat at least one dish at the event.

2. Don’t go to the party on an empty stomach. Before you head out the door, eat something. You’ll be less likely to drool over those off-limit pastries if you’re not famished. Enjoy a safe and tasty gluten-free meal at home beforehand.

3. Pack an emergency stash. Bring along some gluten-free crackers or a snack bar. If the worst-case scenario happens and there is not one thing you can eat, you’ll have your emergency stash to dip into.

4. When in doubt, don’t chance it. Your host’s intentions most certainly are good, but unless you are 100% sure that a dish is gluten-free, don’t eat it. It’s absolutely okay to ask to see the packaging and check the ingredient list.

5. It may be gluten-free, but someone might have glutened it. Be aware that cross-contamination can easily happen at the buffet table. An unknowing guest could have scooped up the gluten-free dip with a pretzel or cheese curl.

6. Host your own party and make it gluten-free. Have peace of mind that all party foods are safe by hosting your very own holiday party.

7. Focus on your friends and family, not the food. Try not to dwell on what you can’t eat at the party. Focus on the fun you’re having with your family and friends. Have a healthy, happy and gluten-free holiday

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