:: Better to be safe than sorry

As more and more people become aware of the GF diet, visiting family and friends for dinners or sending a GF child for a sleepover has become easier. But you still have to take a few things into consideration.

There will always be someone who thinks a little nibble of gluten won’t kill you.  Let’s just say it upfront and move on.  No matter the detail with which you explain your diet, there will always be someone who thinks a little nibble of gluten will not kill you.  You can get really irritated about it, or you can just feel sorry for them for their lack of understanding and move on down the food line.

When someone invites you over for dinner.  Honestly, one of the hardest situations is when someone offers to cook for you or your family.  When you receive this kind of offer, first offer to bring safe food for your family.  In all honesty, this is the easiest answer for everyone and will leave you feeling the safest about what you eat.  If they won’t let you bring an entire meal, then you can also offer to bring a dish to share.  Make sure you serve yourself first before others contaminate it at the dinner. 

If they really want to cook for you and you are going to be eating food cooked by someone else in their kitchen, they need to understand the ins and outs of the diet as well as you do – they have to know what is and what is not GF and about cross-contamination.  Start by sending them an email with the same information that you would share at a restaurant. You can use this sample Gluten Free Dining Card.

Just to be safe, eat before you go.  I often eat before I go to a party or an event.  Even if I have been promised a GF meal, there have been too many times when I have arrived and something made me not feel comfortable about eating the meal.  I stick with the motto, when in doubt, go without.  If it turns out they have safe GF food for you, well you will just be extra full!

Sometimes you just need enough backbone to say “Thank You, but No.”  I have a great friend who is a wonderful cook and whom I thought understood our diet, but I have had a couple of meals at her house that have left me feeling awful. As hard as it may be, I just finally had to say “thank you, but no.”  This can be hard on friendships, but you have to protect your health and/or the health of your family.   

Sleepovers. Your child needs to understand their diet and restrictions as well as you.  Life is pretty straightforward at home, but someone else’s home can be a minefield.  Make sure your child knows what they can and cannot eat and how their food needs to be prepared and handled so it will not be contaminated.  Also, talk to the parent and make sure they understand everything. Since they will most likely be involved in the preparation of the food it is important they understand contamination issues.  Send them a copy of the Gluten Free Dining Card so they can understand what is involved in the preparation of safe food.

Some parents will understand and some will say they understand, and then try to serve your child fruit they cut up on the breadboard.  That is why your child has to be aware of cross-contamination issues.  If the child is just too young or you have any doubts, then send everything the child needs for dinner, snack and breakfast and take away the doubt. 

For dinner, send food that is self-contained to prevent contamination issues and/or that can be warmed in a microwave. If they are having pizza, make one at home and send in a container that can be microwaved or if the parent does not mind cooking, assembled a pizza at home on our own cookie sheet and send it with cooking directions.

Send plenty of snacks that can be shared.  What is a sleepover without a late night snack?  Popcorn is always easy and a hit. Newman's Own Microwave Popcorn- Natural is GF.  Click HERE for a long list of GF snacks. If the kids are eating other non-GF snacks, make sure your child knows to get their portion before the snack can be contaminated or send individually bagged snacks. 

Don't forget breakfast. Send gluten free cereal in a covered bowl or an Udi Muffin