The gluten free guide to group gatherings.
Diet changes can be a challenge, especially when you are first getting started. Group gatherings were one of the hardest places to implement our diet changes. There is nothing sadder than being hungry at a party only to realize that you can not eat any of the food. As time has gone on we have become wiser and more prepared, most of the time.
Plan ahead, find out what will be served.
The sad reality of having food allergies is you have to take extra precautions when it comes to dining out. Not only do you have to be careful and aware at a restaurant but also at friend and family gatherings. Before attending your event contact the host to see what food they will be serving. I personally do not expect friends and family to make entirely separate dishes tailored around our diet. Because of this I usually offer to bring some of our diet friendly foods along with us.
We recently attended a family get together with this situation. I inquired ahead of time to find out what would be served. The main dish contained both gluten and dairy. Because of this I prepared a simple diet friendly dish that we brought with us. Thankfully there would be salads and a few sides that we were able to have along with our dish from home. Calling ahead of time ensured that we would have something to eat and saved my mother in law from trying to whip up a separate dish we could eat at the last minute.
Don’t expect people to remember your allergy.
It is hard and a bit inconvenient. But the truth is, most people will not keep track of your allergies. It is not because they don’t care. Honestly I never used to think of food allergies until I married my husband. Recently at a group bbq one of the salads had soy sauce. It looked like it was gluten free but it was not. Always ask questions especially if your allergy is highly sensitive.
Don’t expect people to remember your kids allergy.
It is hard for a young child not to be able to eat what all the other kids are eating. If your kids are anything like mine they will want to have what everyone else is having. A sweet and caring adult may give it to her not realizing she can’t have gluten.
In reality if a child comes to you asking for a food item you should always check with the child’s parents. However, this is not most peoples first response. It would be wise to kindly inform others at the event of your child’s food restrictions.
What to bring when the main dish will not be gluten free.
You have a few options.
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If you will be attending a bbq bring your gluten free meat of choice to be added to the grill. Cross contamination can be a problem for some people so you can cook your meat ahead of time and bring it with you or you can ask to cook your meat at the gathering yourself. This way you know that no cross contamination has occurred.
Bring a simple dish from home that is easy to transport and reheat.
You can bring your own salad dressing. Or if you do not have dressing you can always ask if the host has olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and whip up a quick mixture of your own. Ask to get your salad before the dressing has been added.
Want to enjoy a cold beer at the party? Bring your own gluten free beer.
You can bring a simple dessert for your family to enjoy. This is an especially good idea for kids who don’t fully understand why they can’t eat like everyone else.
If you will be attending a large party and will need to bring some food items with you consider bringing a cooler. At one summer bbq there was no room in the fridge for our extra items. The next time we had a similar event I packed our items in a cooler. The hosts were very thankful that they did not need to rearrange the fridge to fit even more food.
Always carry snacks with you. Some of our favorite are Luna bars, Kits organic bars and Kashi go Lean bars. They are always kept in my purse and in the diaper bag since our options are sometimes limited.
Gluten free friends, this is the bottom line.
Don’t expect other people to remember your allergies. Always ask what ingredients are in the food. Never assume it is safe to eat. Always do your best to be prepared. You are the one in charge of making sure you and your family are fed and do not have any allergy related issues.
These changes can be really hard at first but with time it does get easier.