Eating Gluten Free With Friends & Family

My good friend and fellow Bon Jovi lover!

With my best friends 🙂

Having dinner made for you should  be a relaxing experience but that’s not always the case when you’re coeliac. A close friend or family member may be cooking for you but it can still be a little stressful. Whilst your best friend or favourite Auntie cares about you and would never intentionally make you sick they don’t live a gluten free life and they aren’t coeliac so they don’t know all the ins and outs of what you can and cannot eat the way you do. Reading labels, knowing what to avoid, learning where to find safe food and preventing cross contamination comes from experience. Use your experience to help friends and family understand before they cook for you.

My tips for staying safe when eating with friends and family

  • Make sure your friends understand what you’re dealing with. If they know how serious coeliac disease is, what the consequences of eating gluten are and that cross contamination really is an issue they will be more likely to take the necessary precautions to keep you safe.
  • You can’t ask too many questions. If someone is preparing a meal for you, don’t feel bad about asking 100 questions relating to ingredients and cross contamination. It’s important and you don’t want to be glutenated just because you didn’t ask to check the pesto or the salsa.
  • Make suggestions. If a friend wants to make you dinner and asks for suggestions, make sure you have some to hand. Discuss before hand what they are going to make or choose a gluten free recipe that they can follow. If possible, go to the grocery store together to choose ingredients.
  • Offer to make dinner. If you are staying with friends, perhaps you can offer to be the one to prepare dinner. It works as a thank you for letting you stay and also keeps you in charge of what you will be eating/how things are prepared.
  • Offer to wash up before dinner. If you friend wants to cook for you, you can feel a part of the process by scrubbing pots, pans, utensils, cutting board etc before preparation begins. This way you are both helping out and ensuring a safe cooking environment.
  • Never be afraid of offending. If your friend is doing something you’re not comfortable with or using an ingredient you aren’t 100% sure about don’t be afraid to speak up or even stick with the gluten free snacks you brought with you. If your friends know how serious eating safely is they will be understanding about your anxieties rather than feel offended.
  • Have a back-up plan. As in all situations of uncertainty be sure to pack yourself a safe just-in-case snack. Most likely your friend will cook a delicious and safe gluten free meal but if not, at least you won’t go hungry and you’ll still be able to catch up with your friend over a glass of vino.
  • Try to relax. Having a meal with friends should be an enjoyable experience. This is of course a lot more difficult when you have a pit in your stomach from worrying about contamination but try to relax. You’ve double checked the ingredients and your friend is taking all the necessary precautions. Pour yourself and glass of vino and enjoy!

What are your methods of ensuring you stay safe when family or friends are cooking for you? Or do you even let others cook for you? Share your ideas/experiences in the comments below..

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  • This is such a great post! As a college student, I share my food with my roommates often, and they’ve done great with asking questions and making sure that all the food is safe and 100% gluten free! I use these tips almost every day!

  • Thank you Laura! It’s nice to hear that you have very understanding roommates. My friends are the same way and it makes things a lot easier 🙂

  • Allison

    Nov 7th, 2011

    I would love to read more posts or hear from other readers on how they handle family dinners/holidays, etc. My family thinks I’m ruining holiday dinners when I ask them to read ingredients of things they are preparing to make sure I can eat certain dishes, or even if I offer to make a few of the “regular” famly recipies, re-working them a bit to make sure they are gluten free. (This usually only requires substituting gluten free flour for regular). It’s always an argument, making me not want to attend family dinners/holidays. You know, how can I be so self-centered with my celiac.

  • I’m sorry to hear that some of your family don’t understand how serious celiac disease is and how careful we really do have to be. It’s difficult enough having to deal with restaurants and strangers who think we are over cautious never mind those closer to home. I’m very lucky to have very understanding family and friends but I have spoken to many celiacs/read on forums about people with similar issues of not being taken seriously. 🙁 Are you the only celiac in your family? Have you sat down and explained to them the serious consequences of you eating gluten? I plan to write a post soon on ‘being celiac in a family of gluten eaters.’ Hopefully we will get some feedback on how others deal with this issue 🙂

  • christa

    Jan 30th, 2012

    Alison I totally feel your pain! We made Gluten Free Stuffing for 3 years in a row with cheese bread and everyone loved it. Then one year my mother in-lawtold her husband that it was gluten free and although he ranted and raved about how good it was before he all of a sudden said “Oh I knew there was something different”. Now I am no longer able to enjoy stuffing and turkey as he says he doesn’t like it anymore. 🙁 Heaven forbid people try something different and admit that they like something Gluten Free to possibly make the person with Celiac feel better. So now we are back to the contamination factor as before everything was gluten free except the buns and well now I have to hover to make sure people don’t mix up the spoons or eat first which always makes me uncomfortable.

    I have now resorted to hosting every 3rd dinner so that I can have gluten free sometimes. Although my mom makes Gluten Free dinners and everyone loves it especially me! 🙂

  • Thanks for this, great article which I’ve passed on to my friends & family. I have asked them to ignore the bit about offering to wash up or cook!