The Gluten Free Blogger’s Guide on How to navigate gluten free food shopping this Christmas

Are you worried about gluten free food shortages this Christmas? Blogger Sarah Howells - aka The Gluten Free Blogger - has some tips to make sure you still get the gluten free Christmas of your dreams…

If there’s one thing that can really trip up a gluten free person’s meticulously planned and calculated Christmas shopping list, it’s an empty supermarket shelf.

And I’ll be the first one to confess to having a tantrum in the middle of the aisle because the one gluten free product I needed is out of stock.

As someone with coeliac disease, festive food shopping can feel like more of a military operation than a casual trolly dash to see what you can find.

Food shortages caused by the pandemic, Brexit, supply chains, rice flour price hikes and goodness knows what else have certainly made things a bit trickier.

And I know I’m not the only one experiencing this - gluten free Facebook groups are filled with people despairing at the gaping holes on the shelves and a recent poll by Coeliac UK showed a whopping 87% of respondents were struggling to find their gluten free favourites.

Everywhere we turn this Christmas we’re being greeted with empty supermarket shelves and ‘out-of-stock’ notices - and when you following a gluten free diet it can be worrying.

But before you think Christmas is ruined because your supermarket of choice doesn’t have the stuffing you wanted - I’m here to tell you all is not lost!

Here are some top tips to navigate food shortages this Christmas and still manage to eat all the foods you love.

Shop around

It’s very easy when you are new to a gluten free diet to find one supermarket (or even just one free from section) you like and stick to it.

The rest of the aisles can seem pretty daunting when you’re trying to figure out which gluten containing ingredients might trip you up along the way.

But one of the best things you can do if you live in an area with multiple supermarkets is to shop around the various stores.

I often find one store has products I haven’t been able to find in another, or I might even discover a surprise gluten free product I’ve never seen before.

Although visiting multiple shops can be a pain, it’s definitely a good idea if you’re looking for something specific or your store has let you down.

Shop outside the free from aisle

It’s often a lot easier to stick to the safe haven of the free from aisle but you’ll be surprised how many ‘mainstream’ products are actually suitable for a gluten free diet.

A lot of the standard Christmas food - pigs in blankets, stuffing, stuffed meat joints, party food - are now labelled gluten free as standard.

While some of these flaunt this label on the front of packs, others only write it subtly on the back, or you’ll have to check the ingredients and use the Coeliac UK Food Checker App.

If you’re unsure when it comes to ingredients lists this is a great app to have as you can scan the barcodes of foods to check if they’re safe to eat or not.

Make your own

A lot of people are put off at the thought of making things from scratch but many Christmas foods aren’t as difficult as you might think.

If you can’t find the gluten free product you really wanted the chances are that you might be able to find a recipe for it.

And with a good recipe to follow it’ll increase your odds of success - and you may pick up some new skills along the way.

Coeliac UK has a whole bank of Christmas recipes and I also have plenty of tried-and-tested festive gluten free recipes on my blog as well.

Look locally and online

Don’t just rely on the supermarkets for your Christmas food shopping - there are some brilliant other places to look too.

A lot of local butchers, farm shops, delis and market stalls will offer options suitable for your gluten free diet so it’s always worth seeing what is in your local area.

There are also lots of small suppliers online, many of them being run by people with coeliac disease, who can provide gluten free festive goods.

Often you can search online for the products you want and see what answers it throws up - you might discover a new favourite brand too!

Adapt and survive!

So you’ve shopped around, you’ve looked online and scoured the local shops and you still can’t find that one gluten free product you wanted?

Planning is key to being gluten free but it’s also important to be able to adapt.

Perhaps you can find a tasty alternative and try a brand new recipe you’d never even thought to cook before?

Or maybe you can find a variation on the product you hoped for in a different supermarket which would work instead of your original plan?

It’s important to try to adapt, think outside the box and stay open to new alternatives because you might just find something even better.

Sarah Howells is a UK blogger and journalist who was diagnosed with coeliac disease in 2002 when she was a young teenager. Find her recipes, tips and product finds at The Gluten Free Blogger or follow her on Instagram at @GFBlogger


View all blog posts