Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tips for a Successful GFCF Holiday Season

Tips for a successful GFCF Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us – it’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few days away. Chanukah, Christmas and New Years are not far behind. If this is your first holiday season GFCF or if previous holiday seasons were a disaster you might be looking for some tips to make this year better. Here are some of my best tips. Feel free to leave comments with your own tips – together we will all survive this stressful time of year.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Set priorities and keep in mind what is truly important – and that may not be the same for all of us. My number one goal is to keep Andy GFCF – while eating organic, and totally eliminating high fructose corn syrup along with artificial flavors and colors is something I try and do every day – sometimes something has to give. If treats are brought into school that are GFCF but have HFCS in them or have red 40 in them, I will go ahead and let Andy have them. Sometimes it is equally important to allow Andy to have normal social experiences.

Give yourself permission to change traditions. My home used to be the place to be on Thanksgiving – everyone knew there would be lots of wonderful homemade food. I never asked anyone to bring anything because I love to cook and this was my chance to show off – but if they showed up with something we put it on the table. Our first year GFCF was a disaster – I asked everyone to please not bring anything as I did not want any food in the house that Andy couldn’t eat. Some people just don’t like to show up empty handed – and I felt bad turning away their food so I let them bring food in – and when my back was turned – Andy was fed a piece of regular pumpkin pie. The next two years we went away on Thanksgiving. I just didn’t want to deal with it and keeping Andy safe was more important that hurting other’s feelings. So we rented a luxury condo at a water park and went and had fun. I still made a turkey since we had a full kitchen – but while it was cooking I kicked back in the hot tub in front of the fireplace on the four seasons porch with a glass of champagne while Dan took Andy down to the water park. It was heaven! Last year we stayed home and just didn’t invite anyone – since we took a couple of years off and everyone found somewhere else to go we were now off the hook for entertaining. So do what you have to do – to keep your family safe.

Ask for help using reverse psychology. If there is a gathering that you just must host or attend, pick out the person that you are most worried about not respecting your boundaries and ask them to help you. If it’s your mother in law that thinks that a little bit won’t hurt – ask her to help you. People can’t resist helping. Pull her aside and tell her how you are so glad she is going to be here because you really need help. Explain to her that not everyone is as conscientious as she is and you are really worried about your child getting into something not on their diet and getting sick. Can she imagine how terrible it would be if you ended up having to run Johnny to the ER in the middle of the party? Can she help you watch out for him? She will be so busy watching others and trying to catch them that she won’t have time to try and feed him something herself.

Try and keep routines as normal as possible. If you usually eat lunch at 11:30 and dinner at 5:30 – try and keep to that schedule. If you really can’t because it is at Grandma’s house and she always does Thanksgiving at 1:30 and she’s not budging – then bring food along and feed your kids on their normal schedule. They can eat again at 1:30, but just give them small portions and don’t expect them to finish. If your children are young and still napping – make sure they get their naps. There is nothing worse than a toddler that needs a nap at a family gathering. Make sure you take care of yourself and get adequate rest yourself so you can keep up.

Plan ahead. Regardless of if you are cooking or traveling – try to anticipate what you will need and don’t catch yourself short. If you don’t know what is on the menu that is GFCF and you don’t know what will be available to buy locally, bring some of your child’s favorite foods with you. If you are cooking, do as much prep work ahead of time as you can. I cut up onions and celery and things like that all during the week prior to Thanksgiving so on Thanksgiving morning I can get that turkey stuffed and in the oven early. Check and make sure you have all ingredients ahead of time – you don’t want to find yourself without a key ingredient when it’s a holiday and the stores are all closed.

Don’t experiment on important days. Thanksgiving Day is not the day to experiment and see if digestive enzymes will work in place of the diet. If you want to see if your child can cheat occasionally ad use enzymes in place of the diet – experiment ahead of time. Trust me – I’ve been there and done that – not on Thanksgiving – but it was disastrous just the same. We were traveling to visit family and I thought it would be easiest to use enzymes. Andy, being celiac, needs to be gluten free – the enzymes did nothing for him. A very short time after arriving he got terrible diarrhea and I was left scrambling to find GFCF foods in an unfamiliar town – and poor Andy spent 3 days in the bathroom and covered with terrible rashes. The time to experiment is at home in a familiar environment.

Keep in mind that the holidays are stressful no matter what. Most everyone experiences some stress during the holiday season. Sometimes just realizing that helps. Do everything you can to keep yourself stress free and just try and relax and enjoy this busy time of year.

I do have lots of great recipes posted here from last Thanksgiving – be sure and search my blog for recipes that will work for you. I am always glad to help if I can.


Cyndi said...

You've been tagged. You're supposed to write 8 interesting or random things about yourself, and then ask 8 other bloggers to do the same. Have fun! :o)

Lynne said...

Thanks for all your great tips. I wanted to add a couple tips I have found have worked for me. I host Thanksgiving every year and I love it. Just like you I don't ask anyone to bring anything because I love cooking and because I will know that all the food is GF. However some people insist on bringing something. So for those people I have them bring things I know will be safe, such as a veggie tray, salad, wine, apple cider. Things like that. It has worked out perfect. People feel like they are helping (which they are) but they are still keeping to my diet guidelines. Now that it has been 4 years that I have been GF, my family is starting to learn. So even when i go to someone elses house i always bring a couple dishes that I know I can eat and others will enjoy wether I am asked or not, since I am never sure what will be there that i can have. I have found that if you talk to your family ahead of time and make them aware of things they will usually try to be more flexable about the foods they serve or at least will be aware and be sure you know what is safe and what is not and warn you about it. I am sure it is harder with kids, but teaching your family about the problem and making them aware of things really helps. I have found that most people who don't have any food allergies just don't understand and some have no idea what gluten is and what its in with out us educating them on it. So just talk to your family and friends - it really helps! I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday!

GFCF Mommy said...

Great post, Kathi! You have lots of good tips that I know will help people! You've been a busy blogger lately!