7 Strategies to Enjoy Eating with Friends Again
Social gatherings can be difficult for anyone with a food allergy or intolerance. Many events seem to center around eating and drinking. This scenario is especially true for a celiac when a pizzeria is a spur of the moment choice.
Plastering a smile on your face and assuring everyone that you’re fine is hard. Smelling the oregano and melting cheese wafting about doesn’t help either.
Then you get questions asking why you can’t just order a salad. You explain that even a salad is risky in a pizza kitchen with airborne flour. Even gluten-free menu items can be dangerous since they are prepared in the same space as gluten items.
Yes, everyone means well, but sometimes it’s hard to restrain yourself from running to the ladies’ room in frustration. So you sip your water and watch everyone else enjoy their cheesy pizza and garlicy breadsticks.
But know that you don’t have to be resigned to just a drink. A little planning can improve this situation.
Tips to Help Make Eating Out with Friends Easier:
- Pick the Place: If socializing with family and friends is a regularly scheduled event, make sure you get to choose the restaurant occasionally too. Seek out gluten-free eateries. Do some online legwork to find dedicated safe places in your area. Be honest with your friends about your special diet. Let them know you can be flexible sometimes, but you appreciate their flexibility as well. Then consider having a favorite meal ready to zap when you get home.
- Skip the Meal: When eating out is only one part of the evening fun, consider skipping the restaurant if it really brings you down. Sure, it is disappointing, but anxiety over getting sick isn’t fun either. Tell the others that you can meet them later at the club. Be firm if they persist in your attendance at dinner, especially if you don’t want just a glass of water for your meal.
- B.Y.O.F: Contact the restaurant and explain your food intolerance. Ask if you can bring your own food to discreetly eat. Don’t expect the establishment to heat your food. They may be prevented from doing so for health code reasons. So pack a homemade hoagie to enjoy.
- Know What Alcohol Is GF: So the gang is going to a pub and you want to drink too. Do some online research beforehand to know your gluten-free options. Make a note of a few safe alcoholic choices and brand names. Otherwise, basic wine is typically a safe bet. If you know the specific bar, try calling ahead to confirm they carry these options. Remember to bring your own snacks to help absorb the alcohol.
- Eat Before You Meet: Watching others enjoy the pizza while you sip your wine is easier if you have a full stomach. So take care of your hunger at home and then go meet the gang.
- Carry a Snack: For those times that you didn’t realize you’d be eating out, always have a safe snack with you. Or if you know the plans include going to an eatery with unsafe choices, bring something grand along! At these times, only an individually wrapped, horribly expensive treat will console you! GF bonbons anyone?
- Be the Chef: Why not make the food and invite the gang to your place? Offer a sampling of new foods to taste. You can enjoy your company while eating safely.
Be prepared if the spotlight is suddenly turned on you and your food issues. When the table chat zooms to your inability to eat from the menu, offer a 10 second “mini education” about your condition. Then quickly steer the conversation back to the guest of honor or another popular topic.
Remember that you don’t need to make excuses or apologize for protecting your health. True friends and family will eventually understand why eating gluten-free is necessary for your well being.