Thursday, December 11, 2014

How I get through the holidays with my gluten intolerance

Holidays are hard to keep on diets during, even entirely without food allergies. Having trouble with gluten during a fairly traditional US Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years season is terrible.

So I negotiate.

See, I come from a family where food is tradition--like a lot of people. Baking millions of cookies is something we have done every year since I was a baby, and the family recipes are all regular wheat-flour recipes. I'm going to investigate GF versions through the rest of the year, but when everyone is cooking and everyone is making their favorite ones I a) am really uncomfortable with breaking up the flow for my own individual dietary needs when no one else has them, and b) not going to give up a rare chance to not have to think so much about what I eat, when the eating is food we only have at Christmas.

NOTE, please, that I have a general and basically low-level intolerance--not celiac disease, and not a full on allergy. I can accommodate a little wheat, for a day or three, with only minor issues.

So here's how I get through the holidays--or any other celebration, because it's super rude to go to a party and not eat the cake when I technically can and want to:

- I get super-strict with my diet when I'm at home, not at a celebration, and stay super-GF and somewhat whole-foods and even vegetarian during the day.

- I moderate the regular eating at the celebration--one piece of cake instead of three, one round of cookies instead of cookies all day for a week. And I don't double up--if there's cookies and cake, I eat less of both, enjoy the crap out of them, and don't get more. I don't eat cookies for breakfast and bread at dinner and cake at dessert.

- when it's past, I go back to the super-strict full exclusion until I feel normal again.

- and I pay attention to how I feel. If I get bloaty, or start hurting in any way, or have panic attacks, or get needlessly bitchy, or if I get really greasy and break out real bad--all symptoms of my intolerance--I stop. Cookies can wait; if I go overboard, I reel myself back in and get back on track.

I understand that this won't work for everyone. Or probably even a majority. For a lot of people, even a low intolerance gets bad with even a little gluten. And maybe one day I'll give it all the way up. But I also know that I do not do well with deprivation at all, but I can moderate indulgence to a level I can handle, and I'm both devoted to food traditions AND super-uncomfortable foisting my issues on others, so I take the risk and totter through the holidays. It's a yearly reminder of why I gave up desserts and pancakes and stuff the rest of the year, and it makes it easier to get back on track in January. 

And I do my research, and correct course as I go. This is my second Christmas on this diet, and I've been applying this plan to the dozens of holidays and birthdays by big ol' family has, and it's helped me keep on track the rest of the time. 

What keeps you on track? Are you a part-time indulger, a replacer (with GF versions), or a total avoider? I want to see how we all fall on this spectrum!

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