“You should never feel sorry for trying to keep yourself safe.” Gary Smith, 36

Gary SmithTrusting friends and family to understand your gluten free diet, and the risks of cross contamination can be tricky, especially at Christmas. Gary explains how he’s become more confident.

“My first Christmas was just a month after I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, and I found it quite tough. I hadn’t had time to get my head around the gluten free diet and it was overwhelming. Christmas is the time when you want to over indulge on your favourite foods, but it felt like a minefield, as we all know gluten is great at being in foods that you would never think of until you have to!

“Trying to figure it out myself and then pass on the information to my host was very stressful. I remember the first person to cook me Christmas dinner made amazing gluten free Yorkshire puddings and brought them in from the kitchen so pleased with themselves, but then placed them on top of a pile of ‘normal’ Yorkshire puddings. My heart sank, as I had only just learnt about cross contamination. Rather than seem awkward, I ate them anyway, and it was not a very merry Christmas!

“Now, eight years on, there is such a huge range of gluten free options. Rather than just opting for gluten free alternatives, why not try something different and make new traditions that all your family can enjoy? At first it's a huge lifestyle change, but as time passes you appreciate Christmas differently and your gluten free Christmas will become the new norm.

“My friends and family have been nothing but amazing over the years when it comes to Christmas. We have all learnt together and it's taken some time, but I now feel confident to let people know when a mistake has been made, or I don't feel comfortable with something. You should never feel sorry for trying to keep yourself safe.

“Christmas will never be the same again once you’re gluten free… but who says we can't make it better!”

You can follow Gary’s gluten free journey at www.theangrycoeliac.com.