Christmas Survival Guide from The Coeliac Society






Coeliac Christmas Survival Guide 2017

For those with coeliac disease navigating the festive season can be tricky. Parties, dinners with friends and turkey buffets all pose potential problems. Even a small crumb of bread can be enough to make someone with coeliac disease very ill. However, with a little planning there’s no need to miss out on the festivities.

This year The Coeliac Society has teamed up with SuperValu to bring you tips on hosting a coeliac guest; cooking a gluten-free feast and avoiding cross-contamination.  The Guide also features advice from chefs Kevin Dundon and Finn ni Fhaolain, coeliac and author of Finn’s World cook book. To take the stress out of Christmas, there is a handy shopping list of gluten free festive essentials, time saving hacks and much more. Regardless of dietary restrictions the Christmas Guide has all you need for a fun-filled season

Coeliac disease is estimated to affect 47,500 people in Ireland.  It is an auto-immune disease where gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is harmful to those affected.  The disease can manifest itself at any stage in a person’s lifetime, with symptoms including abdominal pain, recurring mouth-ulcers, weight-loss, vomiting and diarrhoea. The health implications of undiagnosed coeliac disease are far reaching and can include fertility issues, osteoporosis and anaemia. The only treatment is a gluten-free diet.

The Christmas Survival Guide is available to download free on The Coeliac Society website: The Coeliac Society is the national charity supporting those diagnosed with the disease and is 80% self-funded. You can support their work by buying Christmas raffle tickets with a top prize of a summer holiday voucher, worth €1600. Visit for details.

Top Tips for a Gluten-Free Christmas

  • Get Stuffed. Ensure you use gluten-free stuffing in your turkey. Eating around the gluten-containing stuffing will not suffice as meat will be cross-contaminated.*
  • Little Ones. Remind family and friends that not all chocolate is gluten-free before they buy a treat for your coeliac child. There are some great selection boxes, chocolate coins and other items on the market which are suitable for those diagnosed as coeliac.
  • Turkey Buffet. Sharing is not always caring where a coeliac guest is concerned. For example, using the same butter knife for standard and GF bread could make your guest ill. Allow your guest to serve themselves at the buffet first to avoid cross contamination. Providing a separate dish for butter or dips is also a good idea.
  • Hidden Gluten. Gluten can be found in many store cupboard items such as sauces and salad dressings. The Coeliac Society provides a Food List to all members detailing gluten-free brands.
  • Recipe Swaps. For festive gluten-free recipes use cider instead of stout; gluten free breadcrumbs or flour; and butter instead of shredded suet.
  • Membership. Membership to The Coeliac Society makes an ideal Christmas gift for someone recently diagnosed with coeliac disease. For only €35 they can access year round support and advice.
  • New Year. There are a host of naturally gluten free foods including; fruit, vegetables, unprocessed meat and fish. Make these the basis of your diet for a healthy, colourful and hearty new year!

 *A Note on Cross Contamination & Advice

Gluten-free food can become contaminated by gluten-containing food. Contaminated food can cause a coeliac person to be severely unwell. This may seem scary to a non-coeliac host or to those newly diagnosed but armed with some basic information there’s no need to panic.

  • Always wash your hands before preparing any food and especially after handling food that contains gluten.
  • Try to avoid cooking gluten containing foods and gluten-free food at the same time. This is particularly the case if you are using normal wheat flour or bread as it is easy for the flour and crumbs to remain on work surfaces, cooking utensils etc.
  • Follow normal cleaning rules – Wipe down surfaces and clean pots, pans and cooking utensils with warm soapy water.