With summer in full swing, we’re in the midst of the season for barbecues, pool parties, and family gatherings. This can be such a fun-filled time to make memories with loved ones, but it can also bring a lot of stress and anxiety when you need to stick to a strictly gluten-free diet. Here are my best tips to help you stay gluten free and make the most of the remaining days of summer.
Staying gluten-free at barbecues and summer parties
1. Put people first over food.
Remember that get-togethers are about the people and memories with great company, not just about the food. Instead of feeling left out, try focusing on creating stronger relationships with the people around you!
2. Don’t assume everyone knows how to “gluten free.”
Be patient as you communicate your dietary needs with the host/hostess. Be clear and concise when talking about topics such as cross-contamination or the meals that they are hoping to provide. Don’t assume others know what you need without a clear explanation, and don’t expect everyone to cater to your needs. (However, it is a bonus when they do!)
3. Offer to bring something, or bring your own food!
Throw together an easy side dish or appetizer so that you know you will have something safe to eat. If you know there won’t be any safe food, bring your own meal or snacks. It can help ease your mind knowing that you have something safe and delicious to look forward to.
4. Prepare yourself for bumps in the road.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but you can make the best of the situation with some mental preparation. At times, you may be hungry, or you may be inconvenienced, but you can prepare so you can make it through the frustrations when they happen. A backup plan can help you stay cool in a moment that otherwise would have caused panic.
5. Remember to stay safe and choose your health over trying to fit in.
You should never sacrifice your own health to “please” someone else. I have been to several parties where the host has assured me that the food was gluten free-when in fact I knew it wasn’t. Don’t sacrifice your health to appease someone else. It’s OK to decline food — even if it feels awkward or you fear what others will think. I promise you would rather feel those few moments of awkwardness than feel sick for weeks on end.
When in doubt, stick with what you know is safe to avoid getting glutened. And remember that these events are about connecting with others and we can still do that, even when we are eating gluten free! I hope these tips help and that you can have a safe and fun-filled rest of the summer!
Want more tips for summertime? Read “Surviving Your First Gluten-Free Summer.”