Living and Thriving Gluten Free

Healthy & Whole Food Eating

Author:           Updated June 14, 2018
Categories: Eating Out    

When you first start changing your diet to eat real and gluten free, it can be difficult to eat at friends houses. Some people really don't cook very natural, nor gluten free, so there won't be much to eat.

Eating with friends at a dinner table
Image by: Vivienviv0

You'll have to ask questions about what's in the food. And you'll probably have to explain why you're asking, since some people can be offended if you won't eat everything they cook. Some people understand right away, and others will need time to fully grasp what you're telling them, and why you want to do it.

You'll also often find some push back from friends and family. When you tell them you're eating to be more healthy and gluten free, you're likely to get some people reacting that everything THEY cook is super healthy, even if it isn't. In a way, when you tell them you can't have "item A", you are criticizing them. I know you're not, and you know you're not, but they won't take it that way. Be prepared for this kind of reaction, and plan ahead what you might say. You somehow have to communicate it has nothing to do with their cooking. Your relationship with them will dictate what exactly you say, so think about it ahead of time.

Different people have learned different things over the years, as to what is healthy, and what is not. The variety of different diets and advice over the years is very extreme, with absolutely contradictory advice. If you're up for a discussion, everyone can learn a lot. If not, then you just have to have some sort of plan on what you're going to tell people.

When I started changing my diet, if I knew the people really well, when I went to their house, I did explain what I was doing, and why. And I stuck to my guns when I had push back.

When I went to someone's house who I did not know very well, then I just told people I have a lot of food allergies. That pretty much ended the discussion right there, and they did not push it, at all.

More recently, I have a new group of friends, as I moved to a different city, and they have been very open to my reasoning. They have even gone out of their way to make me food I've NEVER been able to eat at other people's house. It really was very kind and thoughtful of them.

Mixed emotions
Image by: Alekksall
If you eat out at friends places a lot, you'll probably find you'll have a mix of reactions from people. You also need to realize that some of the negative reactions from other people are kind of a self defense mechanism on their part. Many people don't like change, and if you start talking about eating healthier, they start to think about it, too. But just because you brought it up does not mean they want to examine their own diet; and with you bringing it up, they are sort of forced to look at that. Often if you get a negative reaction, that's really where it's coming from; their desire to NOT change.

When you do go to someone's house, after you've asked a few questions, you'll get an idea of what you can eat. Some places it might be almost everything, and others it might only be one small thing. 

When I first started on my diet change, I would actually eat before I left home, probably about 80% of what I'd normally eat. Then, when I got to my friends place, if there wasn't much to eat, I wouldn't be starving.  Over time, it eventually got so they had food for me to eat a full meal, so I quit having to pre-eat. If you eat out a lot at people's houses that you don't know well, then for those times, you may need to continue to pre-eat.

Another thing that really helps, is offering to bring something to add to the meal. Don't ask what they need, but offer up something you really like. If they really don't need that part, they may tell you so, and suggest something else, so then you can adjust to meet their needs, and you're own.

If you like salad, then offering to bring a home made gourmet salad dressing can be a great idea. Then you eat what they provide, but add your own dressing. There were a lot of times I ate a lot of salad at other people's place, with salad dressing I brought.

For those who do a lot of barbecue, you can offer to bring some home made barbecue sauce, and you can help with the barbecuing part, so you can control what goes on the meat or vegetables that's being grilled. Be aware though, that some barbecue aficionados can get offended if you suggest it, so just be aware in case you get that reaction from someone.

Personally, I don't eat dessert at home, but will often do so when I go out, so I often will offer to bring a nice dessert. Again, I can control what goes in it. I've taken home made ice cream, cheesecake, fruit with caramel sauce and whipped cream, apple crisp, and several other things over the years.

For those of you who make home made wine from scratch (real scratch, not the mixes) then you can offer to bring wine. Actually, with wine, you don't even need to offer, you can just show up with it. 

The flip side of eating at other people's house is having people come to your house to eat. Since you're doing the cooking, you can fully control what goes into everything.

Depending on who's coming, you should keep an eye on what you make, so you're not making things people have never had, or is something they may consider strange. It's okay if you have a little bit of that, but not too much. I'm not suggesting that you make bad, unhealthy food, I'm just suggesting that you try to make some items that could be considered normal (to your friends) even if you make the entire thing from scratch.

Salad with dressing on the side
Image by: Unsplash
One example of that would be that if you're making a special salad, that would normally have the dressing tossed onto it, you could instead serve the dressing on the side, and offer up a couple other dressings for those who don't want to experiment too much.

Another example might be if you're experimenting with something like using stevia as a sweetener. Stevia has a slightly different taste, that some people won't immediately like, if they've never had it before. So, maybe keep a bucket of ice cream in the fridge. Then for those that don't like what you made, you can offer them some ice cream. (And be sure it's a flavor that you do not like, so you're not tempted to eat it.)

For larger parties you host, you may even find it's good to ask others to bring a few things. Then there becomes a good variety of things, and everyone will find some things they like. I personally don't eat bread, so instead of me making it, I'll just ask someone to bring some bread or buns.

If you're a vegetarian, you probably don't want to be cooking meat, and some of your guests may not be. So, a good solution is to tell everyone that you've made a vegetarian meal, but if anyone wants to bring a steak or something to put on the outdoor barbecue, they are welcome to bring something to barbecue. You can still prepare them some barbecue sauce that they can use if you're feeling generous.

Now you have a few things you can put in place to still eat out at other people's houses, and to host your own dinner parties for friends. Since the most important part is the socializing, and really not the food, it's worth it to put in the effort to continue to be with your friends. You can still laugh and enjoy their company. And maybe even get to eat sometimes, too!

Tamaa maitai (Tahitian - Have a nice meal)

Thora Toft

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