Summer Eatin’ Tips

I wrote this article for a local newspaper a couple years ago but the tips stay true to this day.  Enjoy!

Summertime conjures up thoughts of barbeques in backyards, picnics over the 4th of July and company parties. Food items that are often served at these functions can be quite frightening for someone who is gluten free: hamburger and hot dog buns, pasta salads and many desserts are just a few to list. Here are some tips for eating gluten free yet enjoying the summertime festivities!

First, find out what will be served. If it’s pulled pork, find out if the BBQ sauce will be on it, if there was a marinade, etc. Hamburgers could have seasonings in them that have a wheat product as a filler. Hot dogs may not always be safe to eat and you may need to call the manufacturer. Finding out what will be served, and doing your homework, will make eating so much easier. It’s always a good idea to ask and plan ahead!

Second, bring your own. If buns will be part of the meal, bring gluten free buns. Udi’s makes a great gluten free hamburger and hot dog bun. If you aren’t sure about salads being served, bring a small portion for yourself.

Third, watch contamination. That knife that is in the mayo may have just been on a “normal” bun. It may be a good idea to bring some condiments that you know are safe.   Also ask that your hamburger or hot dog be cooked in a totally separate area on the grill as cross contamination can occur there as well.

Fourth, ask about any marinades or spices that might be on the food. Many marinades use wheat as a thickener and spices sometimes use wheat products as a filler. These hidden sources of wheat can be a concern. Just as to see the labels to make sure they are ok.

If your host or hostess has told you “not to worry about it”, just remember to have a back up plan. A good snack in your bag like Glutino’s pretzels or Nut Thins chips will be a great idea to keep you on track with your gluten free diet. You can also bring along something that you know will be ok for you to eat such as Mission Tortilla Chips and a jar of salsa.

Just remember: it’s ok to ask. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself this summer by asking what is in the foods you are about to put into your body. Then after you’ve asked, enjoy your summertime foods!

The Danger Zone

There are times where I just don’t eat.  Yes, I know that that isn’t healthy for me but sometimes it comes down to necessity.  There are other times where I’m limited on what to eat because I KNOW what is safe and what isn’t.

What I’m referring to are the parties that are coming up for the holidays.  If you are Celiac, or gluten intolerant or have any type of food allergy, you know what I’m talking about.  You walk into a party, look at the food and just know that you can’t have any of it.  There are times, like the fundraiser I was at last night, where I don’t even bother to look at the food or ask because it just seems like a waste of time.  I’m not being negative, just realistic.

But there are options, besides starving (like I did last night because of lack of preparation, totally my fault!).  Here are a few of my tried and true tips:

1.  Eat before.  What can it hurt to at least have a snack before you go so if there isn’t anything, you at least don’t want to chew your arm off in hunger.  It nearly happened to me last night, don’t think I won’t do it.

2.  Take a snack.  Yes, you might look odd grabbing crackers out of your purse but at least you know it’s safe and you can eat with the people you are hanging out with.  If you don’t want to be “that person”, sneak away to another room and quickly eat.

3.  Suck it up and eat later.  This is what I did.  Well, not the suck it up part, I did whine a little but I waited and ate after the event.  This was bad because I was so hungry that I didn’t eat anything healthy, it was all junk.

These are things I consider when I go out to someone’s home, to a party and, sometimes, when dining out with friends.  Sometimes I know that all I can have is a plate of veggies which won’t take me far so it’s better to be safe than sorry.  So the lesson is prepare, prepare, prepare!

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