Party tips to keep you gluten-free and having fun throughout the summer.
Parties and summer barbecues are supposed to be fun and stress-free occasions. Don’t let your gluten-free diet and worries of cross-contact stand in the way of a good time. Beyond Celiac is bringing you some fresh tips to keep the party flowing the whole summer long.
General Party and Barbecue Tips
These tips are ideal for those newly diagnosed with celiac disease. If you have more experience with the gluten-free diet, skip to the next section.
One of the most common gluten-free living tips you’ll hear is to plan ahead - and for good reason. Being prepared is one of the best ways to stay committed to the gluten-free diet. Here is a general overview of ways to prepare for parties when you’re not in control of the menu:
Call the host.
Give the party host a call when you receive the invitation – the sooner, the better. If you’re hesitant to call and ask about the menu, try calling to offer to bring your favorite gluten-free dish first. Then, if the host tells you not to bring anything, briefly explain your need for a gluten-free diet and politely ask about the menu to determine if any options will be safe for you to eat.
Eat before the party.
Eating something before you go to the party or barbecue is a good idea, especially if you are unsure of the options. Plus, you’re more likely to make better decisions when you’re not hungry and looking for something to eat quickly.
Bring an emergency snack.
Consider bringing a small snack that you can easily fit in a purse or pocket, just in case you find yourself in a pinch. Check out Gluten-Free Hot Products for some ideas.
Potential Sources of Gluten
Burger buns and pasta salad are obvious sources of gluten, but be on the lookout for other foods that may contain gluten, such as:
- Burger patties (ask if they are made with breadcrumbs)
- Processed meats and imitation meats
- Processed cheese
- Veggie burgers
Many condiments and sauces also can contain gluten, including:
- BBQ sauce
- Soy sauce
- Salad dressing
Be on the lookout for these foods at your next party so you don’t end up accidentally getting sick and missing out on the fun. If you are uncomfortable asking your hostess about the ingredients beforehand, bring your own. Pack your condiments in mini containers or grab the small travel packets so you can tote them easily.
Traditional barley-based beer contains gluten, and mixed drinks can raise a question if you’re not sure of the ingredients. Even if the party or barbecue isn’t potluck-style, it is generally acceptable to bring your own alcohol to a gathering. Grab your gluten-free alcoholic beverage of choice and enough for friends if you want to share the gluten-free love. Buy mini drink umbrellas to signify which drinks are gluten-free while adding some fun and flair in the process.
The grill is a common source of cross-contact. Ask to have your food cooked on a piece of aluminum foil. The barrier will prevent the risk of gluten particles coming in contact with your meal. If possible, wrap the food entirely in the foil so it’s protected from other risks, like gluten-covered tongs. Check out our article on gluten-free grilling safety for more extensive tips.
You’ve been careful about grilling, but what about the serving process? Here are just some questions to ask yourself when choosing foods from a buffet-style set up.
- Are gluten-containing foods near the gluten-free foods?
- Are people dipping gluten-containing snacks into the hummus or dip?
- Is there a designated serving spoon for each food?
- Has any food dripped onto the gluten-free food?
- Is there a sauce on the vegetables?
- Can crumbs be falling into the gluten-free dish?
- Do the dishes have covered tops?
Ask if you can be first in line to reduce the risk of cross-contact and intermingling of dishes.
Don’t focus on the food.
If you’re too stressed about food during the party, you’ll miss out on a great time. Instead, eat beforehand and enjoy naturally gluten-free snacks, like potato chips, fruit and veggies, but more importantly, enjoy the company you keep.
Use it as an opportunity to educate.
If someone asks why you aren’t eating or doesn’t understand the gluten-free diet, use it as an opportunity to raise awareness. You can explain celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity in less detail while still getting your point across. Practice an elevator speech that’s something along the lines of, “I have celiac disease. If I eat even a crumb of gluten, I get very sick. I’d hate to be sick and then have to leave the party!”
Remember that the most you can do is try to educate people. Stay positive and remember your gluten-free diet is what keeps you healthy and feeling well.
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