The Social Guide for Celiac Patients
For some, a gluten-free diet is a choice. For others, it isn’t. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that’s triggered when a person eats gluten. And as you may already know, gluten is found in so many of our favorite foods. Pretty much everything that contains wheat, rye, barley and other grains also contains gluten. Gluten is the protein in grains that helps give bread it’s chewy consistency.
Although only approximately 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, the effects on lifestyle are enormous. The disease is a huge added stressor when it comes to socializing and can even be a financial burden; however, with some planning, it’s easier than ever to stay social with celiac disease.
Beware the bakery
Not every restaurant is going to be a safe choice. Some establishments, like bakeries or fried-food joints, won’t be able to guarantee a gluten-free kitchen due to all the flour flying around; however, with a little research it’s easy to find restaurants with gluten-free menus, which have become more common recently. Look for these menus because they often include a wider range of options than a regular menu with just salads as a gluten-free option. In addition, with a completely gluten-free menu, you won’t accidentally order something with soy sauce, which many people don’t know contains gluten.
Pay compliments to the chef
No matter what kind of restaurant it is, always let staff know you have a gluten allergy. Sadly, there are some skeptics out there who assume everyone gluten-free is doing it for a fad. If possible, speak directly to the chef. Someone who works in the kitchen is likely to be more knowledgeable than a server and can relay the information to the people making your meal. Typical protocol is to wash hands and change gloves, wipe down surfaces, use new utensils and change water or oils if necessary.
Friends and coworkers who aren’t gluten-free may not be conscious of your needs when going out to eat or even when using shared appliances, so speak up. Never feel embarrassed to ask a group to go elsewhere if the restaurant can’t accommodate your needs. Your friends and coworkers want you to be included in socializing.