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How to Eat Gluten-Free at Parties

how-to-eat-gluten-free-at-parties

Don’t let your food allergy or sensitivity change the way you celebrate during the holidays. There are ways to navigate around food at this time of year or at any party, and still have fun and enjoy yourself.  I’m going to show you how to eat gluten-free at parties!!!

Whether you’re gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free or have any other allergy or food sensitivity, you do have options and alternatives to what you can eat when you attend parties and holiday gatherings. It just takes a little bit of planning and preparation.

I’ll focus on how to avoid gluten and dairy while at a party.

Here’s the bottom line and it might sound harsh but I don’t feel like it’s the host’s job to always cater to your food sensitivity or allergy. Some people are on really restrictive diets and it’s mind boggling to a host to try to accommodate it all. If they are hosting a sit down dinner then I feel like they should try to offer a main dish and side that is gluten-free but you could always bring the dessert. If you’re attending a BBQ or potluck you should be prepared to bring dishes that you can eat that will also feed others.

I’ve hosted potlucks where I have invited a Paleo crowd and some people come and they can’t eat nightshades. I honestly find it too stressful to try to keep it all gluten-free, dairy-free, nightshade-free and egg-free to keep everyone happy so instead I ask the friends with nightshade and egg issues to bring something special.

What Foods to Eat at Parties

Here are some food ideas to keep in mind when you’re searching for food to eat at a holiday party.

  • Instead of crackers use sliced cucumbers from the veggie tray. Or you could bring a box of gluten-free crackers. I really love the Glutino brand.  
  • Use hummus instead of the typical ranch or sour cream-based dips for a dairy-free option.  ***Although this site is mostly Paleo I don’t personally think it’s the end of the world to eat something like hummus that wouldn’t be viewed as Paleo approved.  You can also make my sweet potato nacho dip to bring to a party!  People love it!   
  • Stick to the meat, vegetable and fruit trays.
  • Shrimp and seafood sauce! This is always a favourite of mine.
  • Potato chips
  • Eat the hamburger or hot dogs bunless
  • Ask the host ahead of time if they wouldn’t mind not pre-mixing the caesar salad so you can take some salad and mix it with another dressing and avoid the croutons. Or be open to bringing your own salad to share with everyone.

What Foods to Avoid at Parties

Unless you know how certain dishes are made or that they offer an allergy-free version, try to avoid these items:

  • Avoid meatballs because they may contain gluten from the bread crumbs in the mixture.
  • Avoid Asian dishes because they usually contain soy and gluten.  Most soy sauces contain gluten.
  • Avoid gravy and sauces because they typically contain gluten or politely ask your host ahead of time to thicken the gravy using cornstarch.  Most households have this item. 
  • Avoid baked goods because they usually contain wheat and gluten.

Tips for Attending Parties

Here are some additional tips to think about before you attend your next holiday event where you know food will be served.

  • Call ahead and ask the host what food will be served and let them know about your food allergy or sensitivity.
  • Ask the host to point out to you which dishes are gluten-free.  For example, at Thanksgiving and Christmas my family always makes a regular stuffing dish and a gluten-free stuffing, I always let my brother’s girlfriend, who is allergic to gluten, know which stuffing is the gluten-free one.  We also do this with all the desserts.
  • Eat before going to the party so you’re not as hungry.
  • Host the party at your home so you can control what food is being offered. Your guests can bring drinks, ice, plates, napkins, or board games.
  • Don’t try to sample everything being offered. If you don’t know what it’s made of, then ask or just avoid it altogether. Stick to food you know won’t cause any problems for you.

Lastly, make things easy for yourself by bringing your own dinner dish and a dessert that is catered to your food sensitivities and allergies that can also be served to others.

My snack ebook, The Grain-Free Snacker, contains a ton of snack recipes all gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and mostly egg-free that would be great to bring to parties.

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