Day 9- Gluten Free Social Life

Welcome to day nine! Today we are going to talk about socializing on a gluten free diet. One of the most difficult parts of a restrictive diet isn't what you can't eat, it's missing out on social occasions. Food is the center of many social get togethers. Suddenly you can't take part in family dinners or pizza nights with your friends.

When on your way to a dinner party, wedding or any public event revolving around food it's common to feel anxiety. Questions may run through your mind like what if my diet is the topic all night?, "what if I feel uncomfortable turning down food?, what if I offend someone? where's the closest bath room? Luckily being prepared can give you a sense of ease and calm going into whatever situation.

Today you'll learn:
How to stay social despite a gluten free diet
How to navigate weddings, office parties and dinners out
How to deal with less then kind comments

Gluten free socializing F.A.Q:

1. What do I do when I get a dinner invite?
Talk to the host and see if they're okay with you bringing your own food (they will be, but it's best to give them a heads up) and if anybody questions it, just mention that you have dietary restrictions or severe food allergies, then change the subject if you're uncomfortable discussing it.  I think the hostess is more uncomfortable if you don't eat at all, it generally works out better to eat something while everybody is eating.  Everybody makes a bigger deal out of it if you don't eat. 

BYOF and Snacks
No matter what kind of dinner it is I find that bringing appetizers and snacks that everyone can share can be a simple way to bring food without causing a fuss or any awkward moments. 

2. How do I socialize without and worry/ risk?
Play host or hostess. Take total control of the meal by inviting people to come to you—and give them a gluten-free feast. As the host or hostess, you're in charge of the menu, easing the fears of accidentally eating something you can’t. When friends ask what they can bring, request pre-packaged gluten-free foods, gluten-free beer, or wine. The pre-made food will help avoid any cross-contamination with gluten when being prepared or in transit.

3. How do I date/ not let my gluten free diet affect my relationship?
How to date: Gluten free diets and dating don't have to feel awkward or be one more thing to worry about when meeting someone new. Here's a few tips:

1. Pick a restaurant you're familiar with instead of just going where ever they want.
2. Go out to a food free date first to get more comfortable first. Like movies or a walk.
3. Cook together! Super romantic
4. Bring up the topic in a friendly positive way.
5. Meet up in a group setting at first.

What about if you're already in a relationship? It can be easy to feel like a burden when you have certain restrictions that affect another person. I can promise you that most often you're more worried about it then they are. If you find your partner getting angry or not supportive make sure you keep reiterating the importance of your diet. If they don't understand and are treating you poorly that's not okay. That being said it is normal for some tension to come up here and there. It is a huge lifestyle change and a stressful time. Once your partner sees how much better you feel they will become even more supportive. 

What do I do if someone asks why i'm not eating?
The key is to be brief, clear and then seamlessly change the subject. Try saying I have an medical condition (or just say celiac disease or gluten sensitivity) and mention that you ate before so others don't worry, then change the subject. Ask someone a question about themselves, people love talking about themselves so it's an easy subject change. It can easily turn into 20 questions about your diet and that's never fun. That's why the subject change is key. 

What about weddings? I find that it's best to avoid eating at weddings because of the hustle and bustle and the fact your message may not get to who is preparing the food. It really depends on the situation. You can ask the bride and groom what caterer they have and contact them yourself and see what procedures they have. More often then not it's just best to eat before and bring lot's of snacks.

Office events? It can feel awkward when everyone from the office goes out to eat or has an event where you can eat anything. You can see if they're willing to change to a gluten free friendly restaurant. If not go anyways, you can still socialize and enjoy yourself.