You’ve had it happen before. You tell a friend that you have celiac disease, or that you have a gluten sensitivity, or that you are eating gluten-free for your overall gut health. Your friend says she gets it, but you get to her house for dinner and you know there’s gluten in just about everything she brings to the table.
She serves bacon-wrapped shrimp for appetizers – marinated in soy sauce, which has gluten in it.
She brings out chicken parmesan for dinner, and you find out the chicken was dipped in flour before fried. Oh, and served on regular pasta. Your friend “didn’t realize” pasta was made from wheat.
And dessert? She’s made pudding, from a mix, without a clue that most mixes use gluten as a flavoring or binder or thickener.
She’s essentially just served you poison for your gut. It’s one of the biggest challenges of eating gluten-free.
What do you do?
1. Give up on trying to educate your friends and family. It will just cause problems.
I know you want them to understand and to “get it,” but they won’t. Until they realize going gluten-free is good for them, they won’t take the time to educate themselves. (If you have family or friends who DO take the time to truly educate themselves, you are very, very fortunate! This is not the case for most people.)
2. Make it easy for them.
Tell friends and family about one or two easy, clean dishes that they can make when you come to their house for dinner or appetizers. Be specific. If you make it easy for them, they will be able to accommodate you much better.
If you send complicated recipes or try to explain what exactly is gluten-free and what isn’t, you probably will just frustrate them (and mostly, frustrate yourself).
3. Always insist on bringing a dish to dinner that you know you can eat.
A veggie tray with a trusted dip. A huge salad (and your own dressing). A dessert you know you can indulge in.
This way you won’t get stuck starving or eating something that you will live to regret later.
4. Bring a gluten digestion aid with you everywhere you go.
If you have celiac disease or a true wheat allergy, this may not be enough (especially not if you’ve noticed you have problems with all contact with gluten or wheat, not just digestion issues with gluten), but it will minimize the impact of hidden gluten (in that marinade or salad dressing, or sprinkled on that innocent-looking fruit cup). If you are simply eating gluten-free because you suspect you have a gluten sensitivity or are following the Wheat Belly diet or trying to lose weight by eating gluten-free, a gluten digestion aid supplement will be very helpful in breaking down the gluten in amino acids your body can use.
5. Try to remember how little you knew about gluten before you were educated.
If you remember how you used to think about food (before you knew better!), it will help you have patience with the friends and family who love you and just don’t know what they don’t know. Protect the relationship by being proactive and taking measures to protect yourself.