The External Influence
It’s hard enough to resist your own urges, but some relatives can add to the pressure. The media’s coverage of the gluten-free diet as a weight loss regimen hasn’t helped. You may find yourself confronted with a cookie pusher who thinks gluten-free means you should eat gluten-free, not that you must. Worse yet, another guest may set a bad example by claiming to be “sort of gluten-free”.
Educating your family and friends about your gluten-free needs can help to minimize these awkward moments, but the dinner table isn’t the place to lecture. If you’re in the hot seat, politely say no thank you and change the subject. You can also direct the offer to someone else who would love to take a piece.
You Cheated. Now What?
Maybe it was the holiday stress, or the fact that you couldn’t say no to Grandma. For whatever reason, if you cheat on your gluten-free diet, it’s important to acknowledge the mistake and take steps to avoid this situation in the future.
First, tell your doctor that you ingested some gluten. He or she may want to run a blood test to see if your levels are elevated. You should also talk to your doctor or dietitian about why you cheated; knowing the cause can help with identifying strategies to combat those feelings of temptation or deprivation.
Then, put those strategies in action. Find ways to distract yourself from stress. Keep gluten-free snacks in your bag so you’re never stuck without something to nosh on. Buy Grandma a bag of gluten-free flour and show how to make her famous gravy safe for you to eat, too. You might even be surprised by how eager Grandma is to prepare something special. It is the holidays, after all.
Alice Bast is President and CEO of Beyond Celiac (formerly the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness). For free resources to navigate your gluten-free journey, visit www.beyondceliac.org