How to be a Gluten Free Guest

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The season of holiday parties is just around the corner, which means there will be a lot of food! While the gluten free lifestyle has continued to be more and more popular over the years, it’s still a crapshoot when it comes to attending holiday parties. Chances are the age old recipes that your grandma used don’t exactly meet the FDA requirements for gluten free labeling. So unless you are throwing your own party and supervising all the ingredients that are used, you may need some tips to being a gluten free guest this season.

1. Be honest

Sometimes it can feel like you are bothering your host, especially if that host is someone you are trying to impress by showing up to their party (for example a mother in law). The important thing to remember is that you are not being needy, this is your own health and well-being that you are trying to protect. Make sure whoever is cooking and handling the food knows about your sensitivity and what exactly you can and cannot have. Knowledge is power.

2. Ask a lot of questions

There are so many concerns when it comes to holiday cooking. It’s important to ask questions and make sure your host is well aware of your sensitivity. Some sample questions are:

What are you going to serve?
What ingredients are you using? What’s in it?
How do you make it?
Can you use separate utensils for gluten free and non-gluten free?
Can you make sure to clean the cooking surface before and after preparing each dish?
What kinds of seasonings and sauces will you be using?

3. Bring your own food

If you aren’t able to get the answers you need from your host, or are unsure about what’s going to be served or if there is cross contamination, then bring your own dish. You can prep a dish that is gluten free, or bring a complete plate of food for yourself to assure that you will be fed gluten free. Let your host know that the dish you brought needs to be kept separate from the rest of the food to assure there’s no cross contamination.

4. If you don’t know, don’t eat it

This can be tricky, because saying “no” can be the ultimate insult to a host who’s been slaving away in the kitchen to prepare the meal. This is where #1 Be Honest is so important. If you are asked to try something that you shouldn’t be eating, say something. You could say, “It looks delicious but I have to eat gluten free or I’ll get sick.”

5. Offer to help cook

If possible, offer to show up early and help cook. That way you know what is going into each dish and you have more control over cross contamination. It’s a win-win, you get the information you need and you help the host.

6. Eat before you go

When you’re not sure if you’ll be able to eat the food, it’s not good to show up on an empty stomach. Eating before you go, even if it’s a small meal, will keep you from letting hunger make decisions for you. You won’t be as desperate for food and it won’t be as disappointing if you can’t eat anything. You can say, “It looks delicious, but I have to eat gluten free so I had some food before I came. “ Simple as that!

Most of all you need to listen to yourself. If you’ve been living gluten free for a while now, you should know what you can and cannot have. If you are uncomfortable eating someone else’s cooking then plan ahead. Be honest with your host about your sensitivity, ask a lot of questions, bring your own food, offer to help cook, or eat before you go. Do whatever it takes to stay gluten free this holiday season!

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