Do holiday parties get you gluten-ed?

gf gluten gluten free glutenase glutenza holidays restaurants travel wheat Dec 26, 2017
Stressed out at the thought of staying gluten free at holiday parties, family get togethers and on the road?  If you are on a gluten-free diet — and that’s a good policy for most of us — here’s some quick tips that can keep you from being a “gluten for punishment.” 


  • Eat ahead so you you can focus on the fun without feeling hungry.
  • Bring a dish to share.  Make that the only food you eat if nothing else seems certain. Otherwise you might be stuck with cherry tomatoes, celery and carrot sticks, eaten naked without dressing. 
  • Take a gluten supplement such as Gluten-Ease or Gluten-Ade first. This will not — repeat NOT — protect you if you indulge in breads, crackers, cookies, pasta and pizza, but it can stem the damage should you accidentally be exposed to a hidden ingredient, a stray crumb or other cross contamination. 


  • Bring a dish or two to share.  I like to make sure my protein’s covered by bringing a chicken roasted with gluten-free stuffing.  
  • If family members seem hurt because you are not eating their special dishes, say you are “allergic” to wheat. People understand allergic far better than “gluten sensitive” or “gluten intolerant,” and sometimes you really don’t want to get into a full discussion!  Tell Aunt Tillie you remember her amazing chocolate chip cookies with great fondness and so wish you could have some now, but just can’t.  
  • Take a supplement such as Gluten-Ease before tucking into snacks or dinner.  As before, this will not give you a free pass to indulge, but it can help with accidental exposure.


  • Google ahead to find restaurants that bill themselves as paleo, keto, real food, farm-to-table and/or organic. That’s a start, but you’ll still need to asks questions and otherwise be hyper vigilant. 
  • Keep in mind that a “gluten free” symbol on the menu may or may not mean the item is gluten free.  That sometimes means the restaurant will prepare the item gluten free upon request!  Always ask what the GF symbol means to be sure.  
  • Beware cross contamination. Foods that have been grilled, fried, or chopped on a common griddle, pan or board may be contaminated by gluten. A salad that once had croutons — plucked off for your benefit — is a salad that has been “gluten-ed.” 
  • Ask what precautions are taken in the kitchen to ensure the safety of gluten-free diners.
  • Engage in conversation with your waiter.  Determine his or her level of expertise on the gluten topic. If he or she asks if you are “allergic” or it’s just a “preference,” say you are allergic. Sadly, it may be the only way to get your needs taken seriously.  And you may not find safe options to eat.  
  • Remember gluten-free items may very well contain junk ingredients.  That said, if gluten free is your #1 priority, do your best with the rest, which will almost certainly mean dropping any black-and-white ideas of what it means to eat perfectly away from home.
  • Don’t forget to take your Gluten-Ease or similar product.


  • Be prepared by carrying foods you can eat in a pinch. The liverwurst and jerky I get from Grassland Beef  are amazing. Vital Proteins offers convenient collagen packets that can be added to soups and even coffee or tea when you can’t get genuine bone broth.  Thrive Market has lots of gluten free products that travel well too. 
  • Know the location of health food stores offering gluten-free items. Yes, Whole Foods puts canola oil in darn near everything, but what a blessing to be able to see labels that let us know what’s gluten free.
  • Stay at hotels or an Airbnb where you have your own little kitchen. This not only can help us stay gluten free but can save us enough money to make high-end Farm-to-Table restaurants affordable for the special meals we do choose to eat out.
  • Travel with a little electric hot plate –– click here to see my Cuisinart  — to prepare some simple foods.  And don’t forget to bring a pan and at least a spork
  • Travel with a Gluten-Ease or a similar supplement and take it regularly in case of any accidental exposure. 
Will these suggestions help keep YOU from being “glutened”? Write about your experiences and include your best tips in the comments below.  Thanks.

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