Staying safe eating at other houses during the holidays

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: I find it hard around the holidays when having to go to other people’s houses to eat. Do you have any advice on how to stay safe eating at other people’s houses?


Going to eat at other people’s houses can definitely feel daunting at times. Planning ahead and having good communication with the host are definitely key aspects of staying safe and gluten free during holidays and celebrations away from home.

Here are some tips to make holidays and celebrations easier:

  • Contact the host and let them know about your need to eat gluten free. Make sure you contact them with plenty of notice, this way it is easier for them to adjust or add to the menu. Ask what they are planning to serve and what ingredients and prep methods are being used. Make suggestions for gluten-free alternatives. Many staple foods are naturally gluten-free in their unprocessed state such as plain: meats, poultry, fish, fruits, veggies, rice, potato, cheese, milk, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes, and you can easily adjust most recipes to make it gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour to thicken sauces or using gluten-free bread crumbs etc. For recipe suggestions, check out our gluten-free recipes.
  • Offer to help the host with cooking or providing the food. Not only will that give you more control, but it will also be less pressure for the host to get everything right. Many people are not familiar with the complexities of the gluten-free diet and helping out can make a big difference.
  • Potlucks are great! Bring an appetizer, entrée and dessert, so you are sure there will be a complete meal for yourself.
  • If you know the host well and you frequent their house a lot, like a close friend or family member, you can ask to keep some key gluten-free items at their house, such as gluten-free flour, bread crumbs, bread, crackers, etc. Just make sure they are stored separately and away from gluten-containing items.
  • If the host is using a caterer, ask for their information and call the caterer to discuss gluten-free options.
  • Make sure to thank the host for their accommodations. Let them know you appreciate the extra time they took to learn about the gluten-free diet, and that it means a lot to you.


  • Buffets may seem like a good idea, but there can be cross-contact between foods.
  • Make sure there are separate serving spatulas for each dish.
  • Make sure foods containing gluten are not next to GF foods.
  • Watch out for double-dippers! To avoid this, be first in line to take food (and take enough food to fill you up to avoid having to go for a second round.)

Finally, be the host! Then you can easily make the whole menu gluten free. This is a great opportunity to invite people to your home and let them try gluten-free foods and show them that gluten free can be delicious, and you do not need "special" foods to eat gluten free.

Make sure to check out our webinar on November 17th, Beginnings and Endings: Gluten-Free Holiday Appetizers and Desserts.

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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