Celiac's 7 Steps to Eating with Friends and Family
We were made to be in community, to share life with others. We know that now more than ever after the global pandemic that isolated us.
Don't let your Celiac disease or allergies take this community away from you! Follow these simple steps to enjoy your meal with loved ones.
If you've got food allergies, you know the stress of going to someone's house for dinner, or even worse: potlucks!
OH potlucks!! What do I bring? What am I going to eat? What are people going to think of me? I was so stressed about potlucks we didn't even go to one for years after my son's Celiac diagnosis. But I realized I was sad, we were missing out on one of the great parts of community, sharing a meal together.
My first potluck after discovering we had allergies was embarrassing. I felt like I had to constantly explain myself. But I forced myself to go, and forced myself to shut up about the food allergies unless asked. I learned it doesn't matter what you eat, it matters that you're present.
However, with Celiac and food allergies it's hard to focus on other things when you're stressed about the possibility of getting sick from the food. So follow these tricks for a lovely, stress free meal.
Bring something to share that you can eat and you don't mind filling up on. Salads with proteins work great, or other one pot meals. Sometimes I bring multiple dishes, or some gluten free bread or crackers.
Don't be shy and dish up first. This is important if you need to avoid cross contamination. If you're not sure that's a possibility, bring your portion in a separate container.
Ask to read the label. If someone brought a store bought item make sure you read the label. Usually tortilla chips are safe for Celiacs, but not always, so ask!
Don't be afraid to ask. I have found people love to help, they want to make sure you're comfortable and safe so don't hesitate to ask for help finding the label, or asking what is in a certain dish.
Are you super sensitive to cross contamination? Bring your own food AND a dish to share. These don't have to be different foods, bring a dish to share and just dish up your portion in a separate container beforehand. You can bring your own sides too. If you're embarrassed about having separate food, grab one of the plates that everyone uses and put your food on it.
Don't worry about what others are thinking about you. Stop the 'mind reading' (when you make up what other people are thinking about you). Yes you're awesome, but not so awesome that everyone cares what you're eating. They're not thinking about you, they're thinking about themselves anyway.
Focus on other people. Be mindful of those around you, focusing on the conversation. Ask questions of the people around you. Try to learn 3 new things about the people around you, even if you've known them your whole life!
Use these steps and go enjoy being present with your people, whether it be the ones you love, the ones you work with, the ones you live near, or those you simply have to put up with. Focus on being with them, listening, sharing and laughing.
And go ask Grandpa to tell you the story about when he learned to ride a bike, you won't regret it!