The Christmas holidays is always a fun time for friends and families to come together. Everyone is catching up with people and relations whom they have not seen in a while. Christmas for many people can involve lots of dinner parties in restaurants or in people homes, nights out with friends and lots of visitors. While Christmas is all about fun and being together with loved ones, it is also time that can carry some extra risks for coeliacs.
Here are some potential extra risks that can occur at Christmas:
- Eating out: Lots of people like to catch up with friends and family over dinner and maybe drinks out in a restaurant. During the Christmas period restaurants become really busy and sometimes can take in new staff who may not receive as comprehensive training as other staff who are there longer or full time. They can sometimes change menu plans or ingredients for cheaper alternatives. When eating out, even in a restaurant you frequently enjoy gluten free meals, always double check that anything you order is made gluten free with no risk of cross-contamination. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff about the ingredients in a dish or ask to see the packaging for any ingredients you are not sure of. Having the Coeliac Society food list or app to hand will be very useful – see food list.
- New products: At Christmas shops become flooded with new products we don’t see on the shelves for the other 11 months of the year. Lots of these products are sweet treats and cakes. Always remember to read the label on a new product and check the Coeliac Society Christmas product list.
- Gifts: At Christmas when visiting people, it is common to bring a box of chocolates or biscuits. If someone is coming to visit you and they bring a box of biscuits or chocolates and you are not sure if they are gluten free or not, don’t be afraid to read the label or check the Christmas food list. If you find that the product is not gluten free, then do not feel under pressure to eat it because it was given to you as a gift. Your friend or relation will understand that it would not be safe for you to eat the product and your health is more important.
- Visiting: When visiting, the host may bake some treats to welcome you or buy in products. Or you may have been invited to someone’s home for a dinner party. A few days prior to the dinner party it would be a good idea to speak with the host about being coeliac and the gluten free diet, maybe give some recommendations of gluten free alternative products or recipes. Be sure and emphasise the importance of prevention of cross contamination. You could also offer to take a gluten free dish with you for everyone to enjoy. See our delicious gluten free Christmas recipes