A Definitive Guide to the Best Holiday Foods I Can’t Eat Because I’m Celiac

I don’t want your pity. I want your panettone.

Jill Francis
7 min readDec 27, 2021


A panettone bread wrapped in the traditional baking wrapper against a dark background.
Photo by Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease over 20 years ago, which was long before the fancy people decided that complete, yet pointless restriction of gluten was a fabulous way to lose weight because you’re less bloated and also to lose friends because you won’t shut the fuck up about how you’re less bloated. Two decades later, I don’t miss gluten at all and I hardly remember what it was like to eat most foods, let alone waste my time complaining about how I can’t have Frosted Mini-Wheats anymore (Honestly though, FMW with cold, 2% milk was my jam 4 lyfe.)

However, the holidays tend to be the one moment of the year when I get a little misty-eyed for the cookies of yore. Can you blame me? Everyone is jumping in the culinary way-back machine trying to recreate the cherished recipes of our youth that honor tradition and provide those tidings of comfort and joy, but I’m over here at the other end of the table with nothing but gluten-free coal in my stocking. Yeah, yeah, I know I could buy a really good GF version of whatever, but I could also hire an Elvis impersonator or wear a push-up bra and we’d all be similarly unsatisfied.

I hit all four corners on the immune system BINGO card, so I don’t have to avoid just gluten. Oh no, that would be too easy. I have a cornucopia of other allergies that make it impossible for me to eat easily on most occasions because #blessed. So, I am hoping you’ll indulge me a bit and let me rant about the holiday foods I miss from my past in the US, as well as the holiday foods that I likely don’t know enough to feel bad about missing from my present here in Italy.

As with all delicious holiday menus, we gotta start with the nog.

Egg Nog

I was a pre-teen tasked with whipping the cream that would eventually be dolloped onto the pale, golden lake of eggy goodness when I first turned over the carton (Yes, carton. This was in like, 1989, before we were shamed into all trying to become the Pioneer Women in our own kitchens.) and read the ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, egg yolks, fat-free milk, vanilla extract, guar gum, salt, carrageenan, mono &…



Jill Francis

American immigrant in Italy with too many degrees in Psychology. I write about everything I’m afraid of. jillfranciswrites@gmail.com