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Holiday meal at in-laws

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We are eating the upcoming holiday meal at our in-laws with the rest of the family. We have discussed cross-contamination with them, but I am still very anxious. How do you all deal with the holidays and eating meals at other people's houses when it is absolutely necessary?

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I am sure you will get a lot of good advice in response to this post and there are quite a few old posts regarding Christmas and Thanksgiving which are worth reading.

I can tell you the wrong way to go about it, though.

I stayed with my mother-in-law a couple of years ago.  My husband had mentioned over the phone that I had a problem with gluten but didn't go into any details.   When we got there the poor lady had prepared a meal and the meat had been roasted in beer!   Too late to do anything about it, but fortunately I had some picnic food packed so ate that.   (Tins of gluten free baked beans, fish, gluten-free crackers, fruit, gluten-free chocolate - thankfully that last item was easy to buy in Italy!)

My mother in law is an excellent cook but gluten was in so much of her cooking I just decided to stick to my picnic for the whole 10 days!  It was a long holiday!   

What was helpful was that my husband did all the explaining.  I think it is sometimes easier for a blood relative to do the explaining - that way somehow seems a bit less confrontational?  I perhaps was a bit OTT in my approach of not sampling her wares at all costs but I had a lot of bothersome symptoms at the time and didn't want to end up with a worsening situation.

Some in laws however are very adaptable, like a challenge, etc. I'll let others chime in now, but that was how I handled things that time.

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I find most people who host parties and have get-togethers just want to make their guests happy so, for me, it's best to be honest. Classify it as what it is, a disease or an allergy, and be firm yet polite. It's great that you found a way to deal with that situation though!

Whenever I go out or to someone's house for a meal I always bring digestive enzymes and all of my other supplements (glutathione, probiotics, and GLUTEN CUTTERS - not a cure or a fix but it will lessen your symptoms if you encounter gluten - I speak for myself of course). 

Being honest usually opens up a conversation too. People start asking all sorts of questions: "what is it?", "what can you eat?", "how do you cook that way?"... I've introduced my family to some blogs that I used to follow.

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Here's my two cents.....

I always bring my own food to all family and friend parties.  People mean well, but unless you "walk the walk", so folks just do not get it!  There are exceptions though.

My parent's house.  First, they have two kitchens.  So, the basement kitchen is mine.  No gluten is ever cooked on the stove or oven.  It's mine! Second,  I have trained my mother well!  She is good at reading labels and since we have a few diabetics (Dad and me) we just avoid carb-filled foods (no pasta, etc.)  Anyone eating gluten, eats on a paper plate and everything (not paper) is put into a dishwasher.  Third, I keep a bin of kitchen tools that I store in a closet and bring out while I'm there.  I have a coated frying pan, plastic ware, wooden spoons, toaster bags, parchment paper, etc.)  I haul this bin to the family lake house too and everyone knows not to use it.  Why?  The rest of the family is well-trained in allergies.  We are a family of epi pens!  Some are allergic to foods, bees, you name it.  I help prepare meals to insure that while at the lake house we are not exposed to gluten.  We are the first to go through the buffet line and we only go once (hubby and me) .  We keep gluten-free foods in bins for us.  We never eat out of opened chip bags, etc.  All condiments are squeezable and we use foil to grille.  

My inlaws!  NEVER!  They do not get it all all!  So, I host almost every party and I do not allow gluten into the house.  Boy, did they gripe the first time I served lettuce-wrapped burgers!  They moaned about the lack of a cheap store-bought bun.  A few bites in, they said it was the best burger ever!  Ha!    But this Easter, they wanted to give me a break (so nice!)    I am making baked beans and potato salad.  They'll get a Costco Kirkland Ham (gluten-free) and my family will be the first to go through the buffet line.  I will bring other food for me and hubby.  We are eating on paper plates and I will not even touch food that they prepared.  They just don't get the cross contamination thing at all!  I do not blame them.  It takes lots of time to learn even for someone with celiac disease! 

My favorite holiday now is Thanksgiving.  We go to my Aunt's House and entire event is gluten free.  As we have a total of four celiacs there and her home is 100% gluten free like our home.  Too bad the drive is 10 hours!  

So, bring your own food.  Don't eat anything that you did not oversee.  Make sure baking with flour hasn't occurred in 24 hours.  On "cookie day" at my sister-in-laws, I stay out of the kitchen and just enjoy visiting.  It would be my luck to swallow some flour!  The kids just about throw it everywhere!  

The goal is to enjoy your family.  You can do that and eat safely!  Have fun!  

 

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My in laws are very understanding about celiac but prefer I bring my own food, which I am happy to do because even if they tried I'd have a hard time trusting it was okay.  It's an adjustment for sure- because I hate being different and eating something different than everyone else. BUT it sure beats getting sick. This is easy because I don't have to travel far to get there- harder to pack my own meal if I'm flying or traveling long distances. 

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2 hours ago, cyclinglady said:

Here's my two cents.....

I always bring my own food to all family and friend parties.  People mean well, but unless you "walk the walk", so folks just do not get it!  There are exceptions though.

My parent's house.  First, they have two kitchens.  So, the basement kitchen is mine.  No gluten is ever cooked on the stove or oven.  It's mine! Second,  I have trained my mother well!  She is good at reading labels and since we have a few diabetics (Dad and me) we just avoid carb-filled foods (no pasta, etc.)  Anyone eating gluten, eats on a paper plate and everything (not paper) is put into a dishwasher.  Third, I keep a bin of kitchen tools that I store in a closet and bring out while I'm there.  I have a coated frying pan, plastic ware, wooden spoons, toaster bags, parchment paper, etc.)  I haul this bin to the family lake house too and everyone knows not to use it.  Why?  The rest of the family is well-trained in allergies.  We are a family of epi pens!  Some are allergic to foods, bees, you name it.  I help prepare meals to insure that while at the lake house we are not exposed to gluten.  We are the first to go through the buffet line and we only go once (hubby and me) .  We keep gluten-free foods in bins for us.  We never eat out of opened chip bags, etc.  All condiments are squeezable and we use foil to grille.  

My inlaws!  NEVER!  They do not get it all all!  So, I host almost every party and I do not allow gluten into the house.  Boy, did they gripe the first time I served lettuce-wrapped burgers!  They moaned about the lack of a cheap store-bought bun.  A few bites in, they said it was the best burger ever!  Ha!    But this Easter, they wanted to give me a break (so nice!)    I am making baked beans and potato salad.  They'll get a Costco Kirkland Ham (gluten-free) and my family will be the first to go through the buffet line.  I will bring other food for me and hubby.  We are eating on paper plates and I will not even touch food that they prepared.  They just don't get the cross contamination thing at all!  I do not blame them.  It takes lots of time to learn even for someone with celiac disease! 

My favorite holiday now is Thanksgiving.  We go to my Aunt's House and entire event is gluten free.  As we have a total of four celiacs there and her home is 100% gluten free like our home.  Too bad the drive is 10 hours!  

So, bring your own food.  Don't eat anything that you did not oversee.  Make sure baking with flour hasn't occurred in 24 hours.  On "cookie day" at my sister-in-laws, I stay out of the kitchen and just enjoy visiting.  It would be my luck to swallow some flour!  The kids just about throw it everywhere!  

The goal is to enjoy your family.  You can do that and eat safely!  Have fun!  

 

Thank for the replys so far! @cyclinglady - Is some ham/meats not gluten free? Why should they not bake with flour within 24 hours? Can there be flour in the air if they are baking with it? Can flour in the air cause a reaction? Thanks! I am diagnosed Celiac and am fairly new to the gluten-free diet.

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Some Hams may have added gluten added to the glaze.  I toss the glaze that comes with the Costco ham.  Who know what Grandma does to her ham in her kitchen.  Here is an interesting link.  Jane Anderson has given solid advice on my celiac-related topics.  

http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/GlutenFreeMeats/a/Gluten-Free-Ham.htm

And this about flour in the air:

http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/Coping_with_Celiac_Disease/f/Inhaling-Airborne-Gluten.htm

Again, you have to swallow gluten -containing flour.  When my nieces are making cookies by the dozens, the kitchen is coated with flour.  They are patting dough and the mixer is churning it out.  I just avoid my SIL's kitchen on cookie day.  

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So interesting about the ham, cyclinglady.  My British nutritionalist told me never to go near ham or bacon.  I actually have dared to have a couple of slices recently because our labeling laws in Europe are supposed to stated if gluten has come anywhere into the manufacturing process, although one brand - I think Tescos - actually state theirs is gluten free.    From now on I have resolved to only eat what is definitely stated as being gluten free. 

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7 hours ago, cristiana said:

So interesting about the ham, cyclinglady.  My British nutritionalist told me never to go near ham or bacon.  I actually have dared to have a couple of slices recently because our labeling laws in Europe are supposed to stated if gluten has come anywhere into the manufacturing process, although one brand - I think Tescos - actually state theirs is gluten free.    From now on I have resolved to only eat what is definitely stated as being gluten free. 

We do have labeling laws in effect governed by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), but meat falls under USDA (Dept. Of Agriculture).  The Gluten Free Watchdog explains it well:

https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/foods-labeled-gluten-free-must-now-be-in-compliance-with-the-fda-gluten-free-labeling-rule/

I am confident about all fresh meat.  I read the labels and have not been glutened by ham or bacon which is processed.  I only buy clearly labeled gluten-free deli meats packed at the factory.  I do not trust that the deli counter can safely cut deli meat.  It right next to the bakery and the deli typically is serving sandwiches as well in many of our grocery stores.  Too many opportunities for cross contamination. I suppose if I had a great relationship with the deli staff, I could get something like Boars head (gluten-free) sliced first thing in the morning, but I do not.  

I am a worrier for those who are reading.   Just read the labels and use common  sense.  ? 

 

Edited by cyclinglady

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