HEALTH: Eating gluten-free on the party circuit |

HEALTH: Eating gluten-free on the party circuit

At our September Gluten Free Grand Valley meeting, we had an open forum. This type of meeting is held once a quarter and we feel that this is important so we can share and learn from each other. One of the items that came up was: “I have most family and friend functions at my house because I know the food there will be safe but when/if someone invites me over, how do I handle that?”

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought that this was a great time to tackle the issue of going to family, friend and work functions but maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle. There are many easy ways to do this.

First, I’m a very open and honest person so if I am going to a friend or family’s place for a meal I am up front with them about being gluten-free and I ask if I can bring a main dish or side dish for the meal. If they tell me they have everything covered I explain to them the importance of me eating gluten-free and they are usually OK with me bringing a dish to share so I will be safe in their home/workplace.

Second, watch contamination. If you see that a spoon has been in the pasta and then moves its way to the hummus, don’t use it. If you’re not sure, just avoid the food item all together.

Third, ask to see labels of anything that is being cooked. Sometimes people think that “wheat-free” equals “gluten-free” and they are not the same thing. It’s better to ask and be safe.

Fourth, pack it! If you aren’t sure, put some crackers, protein bars, etc. into a little bag and take it with you. Sure, you might be asked some questions but it’s better than to accidently be “glutened.” Besides, this way you will KNOW that the foods you have is safe for you since it came from your home.

Last, if you don’t want to take food along, eat before you go. If you make the rounds enough, most people won’t even know that you aren’t eating unless it’s a family meal. If that is the case, answer the questions about why you aren’t eating, change the topic and move on.

If none of these seem like options you want to take on, then it might be best to keep hosting at your home. It might be more work, but feeling safe is worth it!

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 or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.

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