I realize that a early November blog about eating during the holidays is a bit cliche and everyone will be doing it, but nevertheless it’s still something we’re all going to be thinking about and dealing with at some level – especially if we’re eating anything besides a Standard American Diet (SAD).  So, I think it’s worth weighing in on for our Marian Hope Center community.  The language we use and how we connect with people around our way of eating can make a big difference in how we are able to engage with extended family who may not understand why we’ve made some seemingly drastic changes to our eating habits. We’re going 3- part series again so stay tuned for Part 2 and 3 over the next few weeks…

3 Things for our holiday discussion:

1. Stay gluten free

2. Pay attention to emotions

3. Respect, include and connect with the other cooks in the family


Stay gluten free

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve picked up on the fact that I’m not a fan of gluten at all. The more research I read and stories I hear and practitioners I listen to, the more convinced I am that Dr. Pearlmutter was right when he said “Gluten is this generation’s tobacco.” This article describes what he means. The  inflammatory response of gluten is high, so having occasional gluten binges can really throw some people into an inflammatory cascade setting new and more severe reactions in motion- even chronic disease and cancer. So, if you’ve been gluten free, then don’t sabotage all that healing in one meal.

With that said, I believe a reasonable compromise for holiday eating is to go ahead and use some gluten free grains/flours to adapt some holiday favorites rather than having a Thanksgiving/Christmas gluten party. Yes, the gluten free grains are not the optimal option, but much better than the gluten counterpart and can go a along way in keeping the family connected.

Since 90% of my side of our family is gluten free, we make gluten free cornbread dressing, gluten free gravy, gluten free pies and crusts. Grandma’s rolls are a thing of the past and we’ve all gotten over it (more about navigating the emotional connections of food and holidays in Part 2). Our meal is not much different than it was a few years ago before I started dropping “gluten is bad” bombs at family meals (just kidding- never at a major holiday).

If it’s your family or your children that are the only ones who are gluten or grain or dairy free, then offer to make the parts of the meal that are most important to your kids. For me, with my in-laws last year it was pie. I didn’t want Thanksgiving without being able to enjoy the sitting around the table with coffee and pie after the meal. So my solution was offer to make all the pies. I did 3 gluten free (because they get curious and want to try it) and 2 regular. I used the exact same fillings, just different crusts and labeled them. I used more paleo friendly ingredients in the fillings and everyone was happy. It was then no big deal to skip the stuffing/dressing that wasn’t gluten free since I was saving my carbs for pie anyway :)

The main point here is that our usual food “rules” don’t have to take away from traditions and foods that are commonly enjoyed at Thanksgiving and Christmas with extended family, but throwing all the hard work and healing you’ve experienced from diet changes isn’t worth it or necessary. There’s a balanced way. I’ve found this to be staying gluten free and dairy free if needed while limiting the overall sugar intake.

Part 2 coming soon…Paying attention to the emotional connections of family and holiday meals.

Leave a Reply