Social Events

GLUTEN – FREE STRATEGIES FOR SOCIAL OCCASIONS

Social occasions can be very stressful for people with celiac disease. These are a few of my coping strategies

Dining out at other people’s homes may be tricky. Here are some simple tips.

  • Get your own food. Before the event explain to your host about your condition and the precautions you have to take to stay healthy.
  • Ask politely before the party what will be served. Look for items that contain no sauces and dressings.
  • Volunteer to get a gluten-free dish for the party and stick to it rather than sampling other items.
  • In case none of the dishes are gluten-free, have some back-up food ready in your car.
  • Some hosts may feel offended that you are carrying your own food- explain to them the reason behind your behavior.
  • Some people may insist that you just have a tiny taste of the banned food – ‘C’mon a little bit won’t hurt you!’ Stick to your guns and repeat why you just can’t eat what’s on offer.

When you are inviting people over

  • Cook dishes that both your gluten eating friends and gluten-free folks will enjoy. Indian dishes fortunately have a lot of options that are gluten-free. Butter chicken, chicken biryani, palak paneer, vegetable jhalfaraizi -the options are endless.
  • If you are determined to serve rotis, make them out of the flour of non-gluten grain (jowar, corn, rice etc.) or buy gluten-free atta.
  • Explain to your guests the unaccustomed taste if they ask. They would actually enjoy the novelty!

When your celiac child is invited to a party

  • If the party invitation has an email address, you can email them and explain the situation giving the parents time to think about it. Call and ask about the menu if there are items your child could eat.
  • Ask if you could provide alternative options so your child could carry her own food to the party to sidestep the issue of gluten contamination since there would be other items in close proximity that would contain gluten.
  • When you drop your child at the party, hand over the food package to the host, explain and walk away.
  • Instruct your child well before the party and avoid calling up repeatedly to check up on her – this will unnecessarily draw attention to her and embarrass her.
  • Ask your child not to open the party bag (if there is one) till she gets home. The bag probably has gluten-containing treats and would need to be vetted before your child can sample the goodies.

At the office party

  • Eat before the party so you aren’t hungry and tempted to eat a bite of the party food.
  • Get in touch with the party coordinator and ask whether there is anything suitable for you on the menu.
  • Ask them to order an item or two from a gluten-free bakery / cafe.
  • Explain to coworkers how dangerous it would be for you to eat gluten-containing food.
  • Try and get yourself on the planning committee so you can ensure some gluten-free food comes in!
  • Hold a glass of water / coffee in your hand so people don’t offer you food that you can’t eat.