Whether you are hanging out with your friends at home or eating out at a restaurant, being gluten-free in social situations can be challenging. It is perfectly natural to feel uncomfortable around friends as you learn to navigate a gluten-free lifestyle. Just remember that with time and practice these situations will become second nature.
If you have celiac disease or another gluten-related condition, going gluten-free is essential to feeling better and staying healthy. Gluten is a common name for specific proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. Even small amounts of gluten can cause problems, and you may not even notice any obvious symptoms. Although following a gluten-free diet may seem challenging, it is important to avoid gluten to keep you and your body happy and healthy. In fact, as a young adult, your body is undergoing lots of changes. As you grow, you may notice an increase in your appetite… as well as your height. These changes require extra energy and nutrients to give your body the building blocks it needs to grow. Focusing on a healthy balance of protein, gluten-free whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help to make sure you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep you running at your full potential. Here are a few simple tips to help you easily navigate social situations.
Meals at Friends’ Homes
You are at your friend’s house and they offer you a tasty meal that contains no gluten. What do you do? Politely thank them for the meal and explain that you appreciate their effort, but need to make sure that there was no risk for cross-contamination. Even if none of the ingredients contain gluten, there is still a potential that gluten particles could get in the food if the family is not aware of the risk of cross-contamination. Perhaps the family did take the proper precautions and the meal is safe to eat. Asking clarifying questions can help you make this decision, and if you have time to touch base with the family ahead of time, all the better. Alternatively, if you know that you will be eating at a friend’s house, offer to bring a dish. This way you know that you have at least one option that is safe. Make sure to take the first serving to prevent contamination from serving utensils.
If you are going to a sporting event or concert where you are uncertain of their gluten-free options, plan ahead and bring your own snacks. Look for the “Certified Gluten Free” label on packaged foods for safe snacks to bring along with you.
Parties and Other Celebrations
It is never fun to be the person who cannot enjoy a slice of cake at an event. If you will be attending a party, ask the host if it would be alright to bring a gluten-free dessert. This way you can still enjoy the party and even share some delicious treats with your friends. Having additional gluten-free snacks on hand can also help if the party offers more food.
Finding a Gluten-Free Community
As you become confident navigating a gluten-free lifestyle, you may still encounter small road bumps here and there. This is perfectly normal. Having a community of other people your age that are also gluten-free can be a wonderful support. This is where Generation GF comes in! We offer groups all across the country where you can meet other gluten-free teens and young adults. To learn more about our Generation GF Groups click here.
10 Tasty Gluten-Free Snacks
When in doubt, bringing your own gluten-free snacks can help you safely and easily navigate most social situations. Here are a few ideas for tasty gluten-free snacks to get you started.
- Brown rice crackers with cheese or nut butter
- Celery with nut butter and raisins
- Chocolate and strawberry yogurt parfait: yogurt, strawberries, chocolate chips
- Turkey roll-ups: lettuce, turkey, cheese
- Trail mix: mixed nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, popcorn
- Homemade kettle corn: add honey, butter, and sea salt to already popped corn
- Veggie sticks with hummus
- GF tortilla chips with guacamole
- String cheese and a piece of fruit
- Apple slices with nut butter, chocolate chips, walnuts