HEALTH: Being the gluten-free hostess with the mostess
Last week I wrote about ways for those of us who are gluten-free to stay safe during the holidays, but I’m sure there are people out there saying: “I’m not gluten-free but how do I host someone who is?”
This week, I will be covering ways you can help keep those who are gluten-free as well as dairy-free and more safe this holiday season.
First, feel free to ask if anyone has any allergies or intolerances that you need to watch out for. This is something that I have gotten better at doing since going gluten-free. Being aware of nut allergies, dairy intolerances, etc. helps people feel more welcome in your home. Also, ask what items they would suggest. Gluten, for example, can be found in sneaky places like ketchup and soy sauce so it might be good to find out what brands are safe.
Second, plan ahead. Find out what you need to watch out for, ask for suggestions and then start planning. This might mean planning a large party or maybe you have out-of-town guests and are planning several meals. Also, if you are going out to a restaurant or are catering an event, it might be good to call ahead to make sure that all parties are comfortable eating there. If you are planning meals, planning ahead means you can watch for sales on items that might be a little more costlier than you are used to paying.
Third, have a thick skin. Don’t be offended if someone is asking tons of questions about the foods you have prepared, including ingredients and how it was prepared. They are just protecting themselves. Also, don’t be offended if they ask for the name of the restaurant you will be dining at or the name of the caterer. Most people with food allergies and intolerances will call ahead to find out if there are any safe foods at the event. And don’t be offended if someone brings a baggie of food or eats ahead of time either. Again, it’s just to be on the safe side.
Fourth, keep it simple. The best way to shop for gluten-free is the perimeter of the store: veggies, meats, dairy. If you are going to cook with a marinade, keep a pork chop or chicken breast out for the gluten-free person if you aren’t sure.
All in all, it doesn’t have to be a hassle to keep someone safe. Keep it honest and open to keep it safe.
Angela Wetzel has celiac disease and is president of Gluten Free Grand Valley, a support group for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. Contact her at email@example.com or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.
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