Gluten-Free Party Tips for a Safe Holiday Season

It’s holiday party season! Everybody rejoice!
Okay, if you’re a person with food intolerances or allergies, or are on a restricted eating regimen for whatever reason, you’re probably not rejoicing at the moment. In fact, if you’re like me, every party invitation brings its own special little package of dread.
“What the hell will I be able to eat there?”
“None for me, thanks!”
Don’t you just love how the winter holidays revolve around food? Yeah, me neither. What ever happened to just getting together because we liked each others company? But that’s a topic for another post…
Over the past several years, I’ve learned how to navigate these holiday gatherings with a bit of class, and generally I don’t have any issues. I do the usual…eat before I go, take something to share that’s safe, and – when there are no safe options – politely explain that while everything looks lovely, I’d rather not take the risk (while encouraging my husband to eat my share).
Generally, those tactics work and everyone stays healthy and happy. The only problem I’ve had with this is when I have to deal with the type of person I’ll call “the Feeder.”
You know the Feeder. That’s the person that is always trying to get you to eat something. They operate out of the goodness of their heart, but they are mostly clueless when it comes to nutrition. And if you’re dealing with intolerances/allergies, well, forget about it. (Just be thankful they aren’t in charge of your grocery shopping.)
The Feeder is not happy unless you’re eating, and they always seem to be trying to feed you something that will kill you. They will offer food to you all night long, won’t take no for an answer, and will be personally offended when you decline, no matter how politely you do it.
This weekend, we are attending a holiday party hosted by a Feeder.
Normally when we visit the Feeder, we just take them out to dinner. Problem solved. This time, however, we’ll be at a party in their home.  But that’s okay, because I have a plan. Here are my devious yet effective party hacks to deal with a Feeder, and still have a fun and safe party experience.
1. Arrive fashionably late. This will ensure the Feeder has plenty of other people to feed, and will divert the attention off of you. It also allows the other guests to have completed the first round of their buffet orgy, so you won’t be the only person standing around not eating. People will just assume you’re already done, or simply in between rounds, like they are.
2. Keep a drink in hand at all times. A drink is an ideal prop to fill your hands, and will give you an excuse if the Feeder corners you. “Oh, I’ll get something after I finish,” you say, glass raised. Just be careful to keep that glass full. Also, watch your alcohol intake – or have a designated driver.
3. Mingle away from the food. Stay on the other side of the room and talk to everyone over there. If you’re not right next to the food, people are less likely to offer you some. Plus you’ll get to talk to a different group of people that are there for the same reason you are – the company, not the food.
4. Carry a plate of safe foods. Okay, you ate before you came and you’re really not even hungry. But if the Feeder keeps pushing food on you, create a camouflage plate and keep it with you for the rest of the night. Load it up with plain carrots and celery sticks (no dip!), and find a place to set it within arm’s reach. I only use this as a last resort – I hate hauling a plate around while I’m socializing. But it’s an option.
5. Only go to the parties you want to go to. I saw this tip in an article about how not to overeat during the holidays, and it made sense. Every year we are inundated with invitations. Many of us feel obligated to attend each and every event, to the detriment of our diets as well as our emotional well-being. After a time, every party will become a chore, instead of the fun event it was meant to be. Avoid burnout by only attending a few select events. That way you’ll be social, enjoy yourself, and minimize food catastrophes.
Enjoy the holidays!
Do you have any tricks for managing your eating during the holidays? Please share them in the comments section below.

About Li

A writer, runner, and Gluten-Free Zealot, I've been helping others navigate the gluten-free lifestyle for many years. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and when you're gluten-free, it's even better!
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