Gluten-Free Living During the Holidays


Being gluten-free during the holidays proved complicated; however, I quickly realized the importance of avoiding it! 

 In medical school, I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet. It wasn’t too hard as I was in a very supportive environment and lived in a progressive city with numerous stores offering an assortment of gluten-free food items. I began in September and avoided all grains until the December holidays. Once the term ended, my husband and I travelled to Canada to spend the holidays with my family. The moment I arrived, I indulged in all baked goods.


I didn’t notice anything different in my health until my husband pointed out that I hadn’t blown my nose for months and now was. I became more aware of how I was feeling: I was yawning more than usual and was drinking an extra cup of coffee. This awareness became a pivotal shift in my approach with patients deciding to do food allergy and sensitivity tests. I now give them the following options:  

  1. Spend significant money on a lab food sensitivity test.
  2. Try a food-elimination diet. 

Having a piece of paper that shows your sensitivities is excellent, yet doing an elimination diet can be profound. Most people decide on the elimination diet. They stop eating all grains ( except for rice) for at least two weeks ( 6 is ideal) and then have a “party day,” eating grains all day long and observing how they feel for 24 to 72 hours ( symptoms include: stuffiness, headache, fatigue, irritability, digestive upsets). Most people are shocked to see the results – like I was. The elimination diet gives the best picture of how your body reacts to foods.

Being gluten-free

I have been tested over and over for celiac disease (an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the small intestine, thus creating a less-than-optimal absorption of nutrients from food but I always end up with normal labs; however, I know my body does not digest wheat/gluten properly. It’s essential to be aware of how your body feels.

ps learn more about the digestive system by reading, The Lucky Escape!

Gluten free cookiesMama Knows Gluten-free has fabulous holiday recipes, including these cookies. There are so many websites and books to help support gluten-free living. It may seem daunting and tasteless; however, it is pretty simple and just as delicious! Much has changed since the time I went off gluten foods.

Happy Holidays,

dr. heather

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