WETZEL: Gluten-free summertime eating tips
LIVING AGAINST THE GRAIN
Free Press Health Columnist
Summertime conjures up thoughts of barbecues in backyards, picnics over the Fourth of July, and company parties. Food items that are often served at these functions can be quite frightening for someone who is gluten-free: Hamburger and hot dog buns, pasta salads and many desserts are just a few on the list. Here are some tips for eating gluten-free yet enjoying the summertime festivities!
First, find out what will be served. If it’s pulled pork, find out if the BBQ sauce will be on it, if there was a marinade, etc. Hamburgers could have seasonings in them that have a wheat product as a filler. Hot dogs may not always be safe to eat and you may need to call the manufacturer. Finding out what will be served and doing your homework will make eating so much easier. It’s always a good idea to ask and plan ahead!
Second, bring your own. If buns will be part of the meal, bring gluten-free buns. Udi’s makes a great gluten-free hamburger and hot dog bun. If you aren’t sure about salads being served, bring a small portion for yourself.
Third, watch contamination. That knife that is in the mayo may have just been on a “normal” bun. It may be a good idea to bring some condiments that you know are safe. Also, ask that your hamburger or hot dog be cooked in a totally separate area on the grill as cross contamination can occur there as well.
Fourth, ask about any marinades or spices that might be on the food. Many marinades use wheat as a thickener and spices sometimes use wheat products as a filler. These hidden sources of wheat can be a concern. Just ask to see the labels to make sure they are OK.
If your host or hostess has told you “not to worry about it,” just remember to have a back up plan. A good snack in your bag like Glutino’s pretzels or Nut Thins chips will be a great idea to keep you on track with your gluten-free diet. You can also bring along something that you know will be OK for you to eat such as Mission tortilla chips and a jar of salsa.
Just remember: It’s OK to ask. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself this summer by asking what is in the foods you are about to put into your body. Then after you’ve asked, enjoy your summertime foods!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.
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