One of the [many] hardest parts about going gluten-free is the idea of going to social settings and not feeling welcome, specifically because there is no food available for you to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong–it seems like as soon as two or more people gather together, there will be food. The question is whether it will be safe for someone who is gluten-free.
And there are times when the answer is, emphatically, no. Holidays and parties can be downright painful, because most likely, you’ll end up staring at grandma’s prize-winning apple pie, and you know that it’s loaded with gluten, and all you want is just one more bite from your childhood. But if you do, you know you’re going to regret it for hours, maybe days, maybe weeks. And you have to do that calculation of whether it’s worth it.
There are tons of emotions wrapped up in and around food, and trying to navigate those emotions while trying to make sure you’re healthy and well-fed can be crazy-making.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Can you imagine being able to sit down at the table with all of your friends and family, with a plate of food piled high with all of your favorites–and only your favorites– and enjoying every morsel, maybe even licking your fingers, and you are happy in the knowledge that every bite you take is safe for you?
Sometimes you will be lucky enough to have someone go to the trouble to make sure part–or maybe even all–of a meal is safe for you. But most of the time, you will probably be on your own. But that can actually work to your benefit, if you bring your own food to the event.
- Bringing your own food means that you will know exactly how it was made and that it was done to your specific needs.
- If you made it yourself, it will be flavored exactly the way you like it. If you hate cinnamon or cilantro you can leave those ingredients out. If you love things WAY spicier than everybody else, you can cook your hot sauce into whatever you like–even your apple pie. (Do people do that? I don’t know. I have a very mind palate.)
- You can have fun with the plating. I love using bento dishes as inspiration. (Check out www.justbento.com for ideas.) I mean, very few of us have the time or patience to make their tuna salad sandwich look like a Pikachu taking a walk in the park. But you can take a little bit of extra care with plating your food if you’re going to bring it to someone else’s house. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even make them jealous!
- If you don’t feel artistic enough to do fancy plating, that’s okay. But make sure you have a special lunch box or container to bring your food in. This is not the time for hand-me-down Tupperware (unless it has special meaning to you). Have a container that speaks to you and is for special occasions. Let it be something that slaps a smile on your face. Whether you’re bringing the container you bought on an outing with your best friend specifically for the need or your childhood Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox, let it, as Marie Kondo would say, spark joy.
- If you’re feeling especially generous, you can even bring the extras to share with the other people at the gathering. By showing them that gluten-free foods are tasty, rather than bland and grainy, they may even be willing to make a few of their dishes safe for you in the future!
And I’ll tell you a little secret. There have been multiple times where I have gone out to eat, had my own special plate with my little gluten-free meal sitting in front of me, and had other people tell me how jealous they are, because mine looks so much better than the limp/soggy/bland food that they ended up getting.
There is so much that goes into being gluten free. It’s so much more than just not eating bread and pasta. If you are looking for some extra support or are interested in setting up an action plan tailor made just for you, send me a message and we can take a look at your situation together.
Stay strong and keep reading your labels!