How to Survive the Summer on a Gluten-Free Diet
What’s in that salad, dip, or sauce? That’s not the usual conversation you’d have at the picnic buffet table. But if you have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, or you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac disease, you need to know.
For some people, exposure to gluten might mean a few days of digestive discomfort. But for people with Celiac disease, exposure to gluten can be damaging or worse. And that’s no way to celebrate summer.
If your first picnic priority is to remain gluten-free, here’s what you need to know to survive a summer of food and fun:
Beware of cross contamination
If you’re a guest at a picnic or backyard barbecue, and the host doesn’t know you’re gluten-free, the potential for cross contamination is everywhere, like:
- The grill and grilling utensils that can transfer gluten from one dish to another
- Buffet-table serving spoons used to dish up foods that contain gluten, and end up in the gluten-free area
- Double-dippers. You know, the people who munch on chips, dip, crunch, and dip again, instead of putting a dollop of dip on their plate
- Accidental drips and crumbs containing gluten that end up in the gluten-free zone
- Sauce that contains gluten used to season vegetables
Pay attention, and ask questions, and you should be able to enjoy a gluten-free meal with friends.
Put these foods on your watch list You show up to the picnic, barbecue, or potluck, hoping to find some gluten-free options. What should you watch out for? Here’s some common foods that contain gluten:
- Buns and pasta made with barley, wheat or rye
- Burger patties seasoned with breadcrumbs containing gluten
- Most cold cuts and processed meats
- Processed cheese
- Some veggie burgers
- Sauces, salad dressings, and marinades
- Beer, candy, and desserts
You probably already know this, but following a gluten-free diet frequently requires planning ahead. That’s true for a summertime picnic, neighborhood block party, or dinner with friends, too. Here are some easy ways to ensure you’ll be eating gluten-free this summer:
Let them know. If your host doesn’t know you need gluten-free options, they probably won’t prepare any. But call ahead to let them, know and most people will make accommodations. Be prepared to educate your host on what gluten-free means.
Eat before you go
You run the risk of appearing to be a bit of a party pooper if you don’t eat at a picnic. But you could eat before you go to avoid an accidental exposure to gluten. Carry a drink with you. Or help out the host by serving guests, and no one will notice. If someone asks why you’re not eating, offer a brief explanation about why you’re following a gluten-free diet.
Bring a gluten-free dish
It’s one of the best ways to ensure you’ll have at least one gluten-free option at the party. And you’ll find plenty to choose from on the Gluten-Free menu.