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Friday, December 7, 2012

Gluten issues and restaurant or party etiquette

As the holidays approach and many of us are invited to go out to eat or to join others in the festivities, one starts to wonder, what are the socially acceptable behaviors during these events if you have Celiac, gluten sensitivity, or gluten intolerant.

If you are invited to a regular party (not a dinner or lunch party) ask the host what type of food will be served during the party.  If you find that there is nothing you can eat, ask if you can bring your own food.  Most people will have no issue with this, or they will offer to get you something that you can eat.  If the host refuses to let you bring something for yourself it is perfectly all right to go and only stay for a short time. 

At a dinner or lunch party, make sure the host is aware of your issues.  If the host/ess, is aware and not able or unwilling to accommodate your needs, ask if you can bring yourself something to eat.  If the host says no, then you should probably decline the invitation.  There is no point in going to a meal where you will be unable to eat.  I have had experienced this before and it leaves one feeling left out at the least.  Having attended parties like this, where I could not eat anything, I end up feeling rather angry, depressed, and sorry for myself at the same time.  This is not how one should feel when leaving a party of any type. 

Work or business parties: This one is tricky, since there will most likely be nothing you can eat, and you really can't talk to the host about your needs.  In this case, try sticking to salad or something small and then go out to eat afterwards.  That is what I will be doing tonight.  I know I will be unable to eat the food and yet for my husband I will be going anyways.   I am going to snack before the party and then my husband is going to take me to a gluten free place of my choice afterwards. 

Restaurants that have two stars or below:  Before you go to a restaurant, the first thing you should probably do is look online for their gluten free options, if any.  There should be something on the menu that is gluten free.  If the restaurant offers an extensive gluten free menu, then you should order off of that.  If the restaurant offers gluten free options, but does not have a gluten free menu, then they should allow you to bring in your own bread or buns (if needed).  For example when going to a place like Red Robin, I don't need to worry about bringing my own buns since they provide one.  When going to Denny's I bring my own bread, and am very careful about what I order.  You will have to assemble your food outside of the kitchen if you bring your own gluten-free bread, because health regulations do not allow outside food in their kitchen.

Restaurants that have two stars and above:  Call ahead to these places, and let them know that you have a gluten allergy.  Since many of these places don't have a set menu, or at least an online menu, you should be able to get gluten free recommendations over the phone.  If you can get the menu online do so first.  Also, a lot of these places don't allow you to bring in your own food.  However, I don't think you will need to bring in your own food. 

For those that have extreme Celiac, it is best in all cases to bring your own food, and to only eat at places with a gluten free menu and a separate gluten free kitchen.  Know where you are going to eat first, or decline the offers if you cannot bring your own food.  This may seem rude, but your health comes first and no one likes to be sick after a party. 

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