For someone who is not gluten-free, hosting a gluten-free dinner guest can be a stressful endeavor. Gatherings like baby showers, bridal showers, birthday parties and holiday dinners may bring added complexity. For those who are gluten-free, consider using the steps below BEFORE your next get together to help your host prepare a menu with gluten-free options — he/she will thank you! (Remember: Your host wants you to enjoy the evening, and that includes enjoying the food!)
This list of tips looks long…don’t worry! You may need just one – or all – of these steps. Use the list as it suits you.
1. Call your host. Tell him/her that you are looking forward to the gathering and then explain that you are gluten-free. You may choose to mention that your gluten-free status is not a choice, but rather due to a health condition, and if you eat gluten you will become sick. (Some people don’t realize the reasons for a gluten-free diet, especially because it is seen as a fad diet right now).
2. If attending a casual gathering – such as dinner at your friend’s house – you might offer to bring a gluten-free dish to share. However depending on the occasion, this may not be appropriate.
3. Tell the host that you are happy to eat before you arrive at the gathering, but that you realize he/she may prefer to have food options available for you and other gluten-free guests. (After all, serving your guests food is what hosting a dinner is all about!)
4. If the gathering is more formal, like a baby or wedding shower, and is being held at a venue such as a restaurant or country club, let the host know that you would be happy to speak with the chef directly so that he/she doesn’t have to explain your dietary restrictions. In most cases you’ll find the host is very receptive to this idea and that the hosting venue can easily accommodate your needs.
5. If you and the host decide he/she will prepare some gluten-free dishes, offer up the following:
- A list of naturally gluten-free foods. Tell your host there is absolutely NO need to go out to buy gluten-free products (e.g., bread, crackers, desserts, etc.) – fresh meats, vegetables and fruits, along with many grains, are naturally gluten-free.
- A list of foods to AVOID. This includes wheat, rye, barley (and any foods that contain these ingredients). Check out “Gluten-Free Diet: What’s allowed, what’s not” by the Mayo Clinic for additional information.
- Your own gluten-free recipes. If you’re gluten-free, you have lots of gluten-free recipes to share!
6. Once the menu has been chosen, ask the host to send you the recipes, so that you can double check that the ingredients are in fact gluten-free (This will be of great help to the host!)
7. For the recipes themselves, recommend specific brands of ingredients which you know are gluten free. If it’s in your pantry, you can text a picture of the food to the host so he/she knows what to buy at the grocery store. (I recently did this with a friend who was making chili for our get together. The recipe called for chicken stock, so I sent her a picture of a brand that is safe. She was very appreciative!).
8. If there will be appetizers, such as chips and dip or cheese and crackers, volunteer to bring a gluten-free plate. This will relieve your host of having to make both a gluten-free appetizer and dinner.
9. Check out this great step-by-step guide for entertaining gluten-free guests by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Pass it along to friends and family with whom you frequently share meals.
Note: While the above tips are helpful in preparing your host, keep in mind that his/her kitchen is likely not gluten-free. Therefore, there is always a risk of cross-contact with gluten-containing foods. It’s up to you to determine what you are comfortable with.