Monday, 30 December 2013

How I Survived The Holidays

The holidays are full of gluten. Left, right and center, there is nothing but gluten. Everyone makes and gives baking, there are dinners constantly, everyone has at least one Christmas party to go to, and then of course there is Christmas day! A lot of people who try to avoid gluten-free, or just eat less gluten give up over the holidays. I know several intolerant people who are just saying Oh well, and feeling sick because there is too much temptation.

But as a celiac, I don't have that luxury. So how did I survived the holidays?

Merry Christmas from Lola!

Baking Exchange

Not only did my company do a large bake exchange, but I signed up. I made twelve loaves of banana bread and joined in with the bake exchange. One of my coworkers carefully made a single box of gluten-free treats, just for me. She went out and bought gluten-free chocolate chips, asked me about each ingredient, made sure every dish she used was clean, and packaged them right away to avoid cross-contamination. I was so touched. But since there were twelve people in on it, I still got ten batches of gluten-ey treats. I put them all in a big box and passed it off to my hubby. He is free to eat them or share them as he sees fit, as long as he does not touch my one box of chocolates, or get any crumbs on anything I'll eat. So I survived that, but that wasn't a necessary risk (I could have just not signed up), but I managed just fine.


Everyone does it. You make baking, and take it to work. Some people made plates of cookies, some people made individual packages to give to each coworker. The first plate of baking sat on my desk and made me sick. The second immediately got moved away from my area. The problem is that I'm front and center, so the easiest place to disperse things from is my desk. Luckily, the coffee machine is a few feet behind me, so as soon as I learned, I just moved everything (containing gluten) over there. If there were gluten-free treats, they got the privilege of sitting atop my desk.

A couple of people brought little bags or mini boxes with treats for everyone. The people that knew would ask me about the ingredients, or just not even offer me one. One girl asked if I was allergic to nuts, and then gave me a little box. When I opened it, they were cookies, so I had to tell her and give them back. I felt awkward, but she felt terrible for not knowing. Thankfully, I work with a lot of amazing, understanding people, so there wasn't any pressure to eat or try things, just a lot of apologies, and a lot of me watching other people eat things.

Christmas Parties

Both M and I had work Christmas parties, and this was the first year they didn't both fall on the same day!

For my work Christmas party, I asked the fellow arranging it about dinner, and he said it would be a roast beef and potatoes buffet. So I packed a little roast beef sandwich in my purse. I sat with all of my favourite coworkers, all of whom knew about my diet, so when everybody got up to eat, I carefully selected some vegetables, took a risk with some mashed potatoes, and then sat down and pulled out my little container. Nobody said a word about it, which was just great. I didn't get sick from the potatoes, which was even more great. As for drinking, it was an open bar. It's pretty hard not to have a few when you're not paying for them. I ordered the first few very carefully, and then decided I was done. My coworkers decided I wasn't, though, and kept ordering them for me, but they were equally careful and made sure I always got the right alcohol. And if the waitress brought the wrong thing, someone else would drink it. (Open bar, nobody really cares which drink was ordered by whom.) Overall, I didn't get sick, and everyone was really great about it all. I survived by having awesome coworkers and planning ahead.

For M's Christmas party, I tried to eat ahead of time. We went to Boston Pizza, but it was so busy that by the time I got my food, it was time to go. I threw it in a to-go box and we went off to his party. His was also a roast beef buffet style, but a little more homey, as it was hosted at his boss's house, rather than a restaurant. There was also maybe twenty people there, so it was quite a bit smaller. So I sat around and chatted until it was time to eat. When everyone got up to get some food, I went and grabbed my to-go box. Thing is, I ordered a salad. After a few minutes of eating, one of M's coworker's girlfriends asks, "So are you on a diet?" That's probably the worst thing anyone could have said. All of his coworkers knew about me and didn't say anything, but of course the SO's wouldn't know anything. I laughed a little, and explained I had a gluten allergy. She says, "Now, I don't know if I really believe it's the gluten." M & I exchanged a look, but she kept going about how everyone's been eating gluten for years and it's only in the last five suddenly everyone needs to eat gluten-free and she thinks it's really something else. I said, first of all, that I knew a man who was diagnosed in the 60's. Celiac has been around for awhile, but awareness is being raised a lot lately. Also, I told her about how other people eating cinnamon buns at work had made me sick. She quickly realized that I truly was allergic, and very sensitive, and kind of left it alone, but she brought it up several times, about GMO's and all these other things she blames it on. I told her it was genetic, and it went downhill from there. One of M's coworkers piped up. His SO was recently diagnosed with celiac (but she wasn't there). He went off about how none of their kids had it, though. I asked which test they performed, and he said "I don't f*$#ing know." Oh, nice. Real nice. You're going to throw your two cents in, but you don't know a thing about it. Eventually, I joined another table, but I was pretty done with the whole party pretty quickly. We got through dinner, I had one drink (again, being careful about alcohol), and then just wanted to go home. I survived by just bringing my own food. Socially, it was a disaster, but at least I didn't get sick.


It happens, people give you edibles. A coworker gave me a box of chocolates, with the disclaimer, "I bought it before I knew. I don't know if you can eat it, but here." I could, actually! Beyond that, I somehow managed to avoid getting anything edible from gift exchanges or anything.

Holidays at Home

My family is big on Christmas. We have all of our little traditions, as most families do. Ours start with stockings (filled with an orange, a juice box, a little box of cereal, some treats and a gift), then a gift opening, then some family time, like a movie or a group video game. Lastly, there's always a big Christmas dinner, where my mom makes turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Naturally, it all goes down at my parents' house. I was a little nervous about eating, as I always am, but when M asked me what my game plan was, I shrugged it off. I would play it by ear. My mom knew all about my eating restrictions, and she wasn't the type to leave one of her kids out.

When it came time to eat, I helped my mom prepare the last few things and set and serve the tables. She was very careful about cross contamination, treating the stuffing and gravy like convicts. She made them last, making sure most everything else was finished and covered before she started with them. When she opened her giant tub of flour to make some gravy, she announced she was opening the flour, and made sure I was in the other room until she closed it again. She also made me a gluten-free pie (and tarts for everyone else). She made the pie first, and made sure it was wrapped and removed from the room before she even opened the flour to make the tarts. My mom is a total dear, and I really adore and appreciate her. I managed to sit and eat, and have some of everything (besides stuffing and gravy - oh, and she offered to make gluten-free gravy, but I said I wasn't that big on gravy), and I didn't get at all sick!

Oh, and as for the stockings; everyone else (even M) got a tiny box of cereal, and I got a big package of GF cookies. Win, for me!

New Year's

The last step of the holidays is always New Year's Eve. M and I usually volunteer at a big event, but I didn't think I could handle the late hours (it goes until 5 or 6 am) and even worse, trying to be up late, working hard, and not eating anything? So, instead, I decided to host a little get-together at my house. One of the girls and I were talking about my house versus her house, and she realized that I wouldn't get sick if it was at my house, so it was settled. I'll be making all sorts of snacks and whatnot, so look forward to a post in the new year!

I feel like everything about the holidays made me very thankful for all the understanding people in my life. I survived the last week or two simply by having the right people close to me. The greatest gift of all this year was seeing everyone's concerned faces and knowing how much people cared about my stomach and diet.

A big merry Christmas and happy new year to you and yours! Thank you for following along with me the last ten months, and I look forward to blogging and being gluten-free in 2014.

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