When I made the switch to a Paleo diet, the transition came with quite a bit of unexpected awkwardness. I began my wellness journey right before Thanksgiving and soon realized that the holiday season would bring the worst of it. Having to prepare all of my own food, declining the meals lovingly prepared by holiday hosts felt rude to me. I was sure that I was hurting feelings, and that my choices were coming across as pompous or fussy. I hated that, but it was a necessary part of my recovery.
Turning down cookies and pies and handmade pierogie weren’t the only source of discomfort for me, though. The actual gifts I received my first Christmas since beginning this diet, however thoughtful, were a reminder of how dispiriting that holiday season was for me. My mom bought me some baking items; a rolling pin, measuring cups and spoons. They were beautiful, not your average baking items. The rolling pin was marble. The cups and spoons were a beautiful, hand-painted porcelain. They were a wonderful addition to any kitchen. Except, of course, a kitchen where there were no flours, no sugars, no eggs. The gifts were lovely, but they were a painful reminder of all I’d given up. It would be a long time, if ever, that I’d be able to use them.
It’s been three years since I began treating my Lupus with nutrition, but the holidays continue to be a challenge. I still have to make a lot of my own food, but I’ve been able to navigate some pretty amazing gluten-free/paleo alternatives to help me recreate the magic of the season. But the gift thing can still get tricky. I’ve received things like cookie mixes, pizza stones, etc that I can’t really use. I simply smile, say thank you and find a space in my tiny kitchen for these items to collect dust. Someone asked me last week if I’d like a toaster oven, to which I awkwardly responded “I can’t really eat any foods that could be toasted.” It inspired me to create this gift-giving guide for your gluten free friends and family members.
I don’t mean to come across as ungrateful. The truth is, I’d be happy with no gifts at all. Christmas, for me, has always been about spending time with loved ones and celebrating Christ. My siblings and I are rarely all together, and when we are, its gift enough. But people do feel compelled to buy presents for one another at Christmastime. And I hope that this will help to give you some ideas for the gluten free guys and gals in your circle.
Gifts to Avoid
- Any food items that are not certified gluten free. Depending on the severity of the gluten allergy or intolerance, cross contamination can be a big deal. If you’re purchasing any food items, be sure to check the labels! If you want to make a gluten free treat for someone, please be extremely cautious of cross-contamination. Clean surfaces before preparing and be sure that no gluten-containing items are nearby.
- Any kitchen item that a person with gluten-sensitivity will likely not be able to use. Examples: Toaster Oven, Pizza Stone, Waffle Iron, Bakeware, etc.
- Gift Cards to restaurants that don’t offer gluten-free friendly options. If you’re unsure, call the restaurant to be safe!
- Cookbooks that don’t include gluten-free recipes.
- Beer, unless it’s gluten free!
Gifts to Get
- Gluten Free Baked Goods from your local GF bakery or from Etsy! Try these!
- Coffees, Teas or Gift Cards for either.
- Meat & Cheese basket.
- Fruit Arrangement.
- Sangria Set.
- Moscow Mule Mugs.
- Gluten Free Beer.
- A CSA subscription! Find one close to you here.
- A cute tee to support your gluten-free friend or family member. I love this!
A little thoughtfulness goes a long way. Be kind. Be merry.