Going gluten-free can be difficult in many ways -figuring out what you can eat and what you must avoid, learning what to pick from a menu and how to quiz wait staff, and learning how to cook, or how to cook differently from the way you are used to.
Managing a gluten free diet is even more awkward with the pressures of social conformity, or not wanting to be too much bother.
This is becoming easier as the gluten free diet becomes more common, even cool. Still, if you are serious about your gluten free diet – and you must be if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease – then you have to be careful even when it is extremely awkward.
I remember years ago going to dinner with my then girl friend to her friend’s place. They had made some sort of roast – but covered in pastry would you believe! Well, I didn’t feel I could say anything so I ate it. The gluten allergy symptoms I suffered taught me yet again that no matter how socially awkward, I have to insist on being gluten-free.
And that is the first thing you have to realize – that staying gluten free is imperative, and your friends will just have to understand that. If they can’t, then they can’t be your friends (you will attract new and better friends to replace any who drop off because they can’t handle your gluten free diet).
With absolute determination in mind, work out situations in advance as much as possible. When invited for dinner, provide lots of warning that you must have a special diet. Ask what they plan to serve, and make suggestions to help the host adjust. I’m fine with skipping desert, if that makes it easier for my host. Keep the gravy on the side. I’ll bring my own wheat-free pasta if pasta is on the menu etc. With a little guidance from you, a host can often serve you a gluten free meal with minor adjustments to their normal way of cooking.
When invited for a meal, I often tell people I don’t know very well “thanks very much but I have some food allergies. I don’t know if you will find it easy to feed me.” Every time this happens, people want to work with me to make food I can eat and are happy to do so, and I don’t feel I’ve put them on the spot since I’ve given them the option to back out.
At restaurants, I always ask the server to take my order last. That way I don’t feel I’m holding anyone else up at the table. It also shoes the seriousness of the situation to the waiter and since it is the last thing they heard – special allergy diet – they are more likely to tell the cook. It also takes the focus off of me – I don’t want to feel like I have to be treated specially – I just want to be fed safely.
How do you deal with socializing on a gluten free diet? Leave a comment and share your tips or ask questions.