Delight Gluten Free Magazine: How to Survive the Holidays Being Gluten-Free

With the holidays fast approaching once again – I thought this would be a good article to share with you!

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How to Survive the Holidays Being Gluten-Free

By Kristin Grant, Delight Editorial Intern

Today — for the first time in a week — I walked into Starbucks and ordered my usual Soy Chai Latte. When the barista called my name, I was shocked to see a red holiday cup staring back at me. In that moment, I started to wonder what this holiday season would be like. This is going to be my first Thanksgiving and Christmas being gluten-free. Then, I realized that I had no plan for how to conquer the holidays without any hiccups. I sought out the help of Dr. Wendie Trubow of Visions Health Care in Dedham for some of her many tips on how to survive the holidays.

It might be hard for people to imagine what it’s like to be a second-year resident working toward becoming a doctor, let alone doing all that while dealing with irritable bowel disorder, asthma and dramatic weight loss. After months of suffering quietly, Wendie was diagnosed with Celiac Disease later that year. Dr. Trubow, an OBGYN, now works with a focus on functional medicine and on the factors that are causing her patients to feel unwell. What she has found is that food, while not the only factor, plays a large role in the overall well-being of her patients.

Dr. Trubow also uses her own missteps to help guide others with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivities on how to eat with others without getting sick from cross-contamination. Especially for those who have been newly diagnosed, it’s important to understand just how easy it is for cross-contamination to occur. For instance, you could be at Thanksgiving dinner at Auntie Sue’s house, and while she has gluten-free rolls for you, everyone is using the same butter knife. That little mistake will cause you to get very ill.

To avoid any issues this holiday season, Dr. Trubow has come up with five tips to keep you safe and satisfied through the New Year.

1. Pace Yourself: If you decide one day to be a runner, you wouldn’t set out on your first marathon the next day. This is the same mentality you should have towards being gluten-free. If you are newly diagnosed, and you are still getting your head around the diagnosis and your new diet, you should consider staying home this Thanksgiving. This is due to your lack of knowledge of all things gluten, and you may find that things you didn’t know could contain gluten, do contain gluten. Unfortunately, you may find this out after you eat it, so don’t be afraid to stay in and have a nice, safe and satisfying meal at home.

2. Communication is Key: If you want to go to your friends’ or family’s house for a dinner party this holiday season, be sure to let the host know all of your allergies beforehand. If you show up and can’t consume anything, the host will be mad that you didn’t tell them beforehand so they could have made proper precautions. People tend to want to take care of others, so let them take care of you.

3. Have a Plan B: People are not perfect, and we all make mistakes more often than not. While your friends and family may have the best intentions, they may make something that they believe to be gluten-free but in actuality, it isn’t. Instead of sitting at the table with nothing to eat, bring your own meal. You will always feel better if you know without a doubt that something is safe for you to eat.
4. Always Bring a Bodyguard: Now, you don’t need an actual bodyguard, but you do need to always make sure that when you are going somewhere to eat, you bring someone who will have your back. During this holiday season, there will be moments when you don’t want to explain to Uncle Steve or Aunt Barb what Celiac Disease is or what contains gluten. Your bodyguard is the person that would step in and take charge. Everyone could use a little extra support.
5. Trust the Host: If you know that your friend is more interested in having you eat all of the food she/he makes than in making sure all the food you eat is safe, you should reconsider if it is worth going to that dinner party. You should always protect yourself, and to do that, sometimes it means saying no.

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