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Gluten Free Holidays: The Emotional Side

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The Emotional Side: Bonus Post

Peace, Love and Gluten Free

The holiday season—a time for joy. But it can also be a time for some of our biggest emotions. For those of us with dietary restrictions, it can be a time to challenge ourselves. Gluten free holidays.

Gluten free challenges aside, let’s start by talking plain and simple holiday emotions. They can be one big ball all tangled into one: joy, warmth, stress, pain, fatigue, love.

Holiday Emotions

Joy: The hustle and bustle. Music in the background. Cheerful children. Soft, gentle snowflakes. Crushes kissing under the mistletoe. Oh, wait, I’m confusing the holidays with a Hallmark movie.

Humor aside, it can be all that. Memories and traditions. Memories we hold near and dear to us and traditions we can count on year after year. Traditions can ground us. They’re important. 

Too often we let the hustle and bustle (and store ads) and limited time between jobs, kids, and home turn us into frazzled and fatigued beings who can’t wait for the season to be over. I’ve been that person, and I don’t like it. What’s the point? Do we really care more about things than family and loved ones? None of us do. I’d rather sit around a table with my family and a game and a (gluten free) pizza than receive a package to open. And that’s what I’m looking forward to this year. While there will be presents, I’m downsizing on the packages and working on upsizing the chill.

Add in a Dash of Gluten Free to the Holiday Season

So here comes the gluten free side of things. (Minor compared to so many other things we face through life, but it can certainly take on some emotions.)

You get invited to a Christmas party. Appetizers fill a table. And you can’t eat. Sucks, sometimes.

You get invited to a pot-luck. You can only eat what you bring. Sucks, sometimes.

You get gifted a holiday plate of homemade cookies and candies you have to give to someone else. Sucks, sometimes.

On top of all your shopping and decorating, you have to put more time and effort into the food you consume. Sucks, sometimes.

And through it all, you might still get contaminated. Sucks in a big way! Because THIS is what reminds you what gluten is doing to your body. What it may be doing to your body is preventing you from being present! (and isn’t that the *present* that’s most important?)

Let It Out

Were you nodding your head through those past statements, saying, “YES, it really sucks!” Please know this. I’m not trying to get a pity party started up here.

Those darn gluten free emotions are real—-but don’t let them disable you.

Go ahead, say it, “It sucks!” And then move on.

Go ahead, say it, “It’s hard!” And then move on.

Go ahead, say it, “I wish I could eat that.” And then move on.


You always have a choice. You can eat that. No one’s stopping you. But is it worth it? Nope! No way! And I know, that’s the part that sucks. Of course you can’t really eat what you want. Carefree eating is a thing of the past. But is that the worst thing there is? Don’t let it be your only focus.

What your *choice* is, is in how you react.


You can avoid that party (just because you can’t eat the food) — or you can go and enjoy the social part of it. Eat before you go and bring some snacks.


Complain about all you can’t do and can’t have — or celebrate what you *do* have.

My family has a much healthier me because I’m gluten free. I wouldn’t dare take that away from them–or from me! Nineteen years into this, and the social aspect can still be a challenge, but I have my life. I don’t take that for granted.


And remember this: it’s just food. Don’t let your emotions about food ruin your holidays. Enjoy the time you are spending with those you love and with those who love you. Don’t take the time you spend together for granted. And don’t let your dietary restrictions get in the way.

My Family Doesn't Care / My Family Doesn't Understand Gluten Free (is what I hear some say)

I have heard some people say that their family just doesn’t respect their diet. They don’t try to understand. They don’t try to accommodate. 

So what.

OK. That is harsh. I’m an emotional person, so yes, I understand that pain. I don’t *really* mean “so what.” But what can you do about it? Nothing.

Back to *choices.* Your choice is in how you respond to them (or in how you don’t respond). Sometimes it’s best to take care of your own needs and not discuss it. And sometimes, sadly, it’s just best to walk away.

I not only have to be gluten free, but fragrance free. Fragrance chemicals impact me in a very negative way. I have control over the *food thing* whether anyone else understands and cares or not (and I’m lucky to have caring and understanding family). The chemical fragrance issue, however, requires others’ cooperation and understanding or I am miserable, (or I have to isolate myself). 

Moving on.

You Can Only Control You

Special requirements can bring out the amazing in some people (and they can bring out the not-so-amazing in others). But as soon as you let someone else’s lack of support get to you–your response from pain will be the one criticized.

Know this: You cannot change anyone else. 

You have control over only one person: yourself.

You’re human. You’re going to feel. And because it’s the holiday season, those feelings will probably be intensified. Gluten free emotions. Yes indeed, they are real. But step back and wonder, How can I change the way I look at this?

This takes practice. This takes lots of practice. This can take time and it can require many (many) reminders. But always remember to ask yourself, How can I change the way *I* look at this?

Take Charge of YOU

Take charge of yourself. You may not be able to change a situation, but you can change the way you look at it. 

Do I say this as someone who has this down completely? Heck NO! —–I’m human.  But I’m working on it.  And I hope you are too.

Because YOU are worth it.

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