Zimtsterne & Lebkuchen
by Sharon Hudgins

Paleo. Keto. Heart-Healthy. South Beach. Gluten-free. Mediterranean. Vegan. Low-carb. All kinds of special diets have been floating around for decades or even longer. And people choose to follow those diets for many reasons—weight loss, muscle building, feeling healthier, or just following the latest food fad. Some religions also specify certain diets (for example, Buddhist/vegetarian, Jewish/kosher). But other diets are medically necessary, such as those for people with heart disease or diabetes.

Sticking to any kind of diet is difficult during the winter holiday season, when we’re tempted by all kinds of goodies, especially desserts. Almost every family has its own traditional holiday treats—candies, cookies, cakes—and their absence on the table would leave a gap in the celebrations, like not having a decorated evergreen tree in the house for Christmas or a menorah in the window during Hanukkah.

People who follow strict diets often feel a sense of loss when they can’t eat the foods they associate with the season. A friend was recently diagnosed with celiac disease and as she must now adhere to a totally gluten-free diet, she can no longer eat anything made with wheat, barley, or rye—including most of the cookies and cakes we love to devour during the winter holidays.

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