1. Suggest gluten-friendly places to eat.
One of the ways I love to support my gluten-free friends is to take the stress out of finding a gluten-friendly place when we go out to eat. I always look up the menu ahead of time and make sure it has plenty of options for them to choose from. No one wants to go out to dinner and pay for a large plate of food they can’t eat. Not all restaurants are accommodating and oftentimes, charge what I like to call a “gluten-free tax.” Taking the guesswork out of your gluten-free brunch plans is such an easy and tangible way to love and support your loved one. Thankfully, so many restaurants have moved towards becoming more allergen friendly, you just have to look for them! (Tip #4 can help!)
2. Find fun, gluten-free replacements.
In today’s world, there are so many gluten-free substitutes out there to help your loved one feel like they aren't missing out on common foods. From gluten-free Oreos to gluten free pizza, there’s a replacement for anything. Make it your mission to find your loved one their new favorite gluten free bread, snack, or dessert, and have it on hand in your home for when they come visit. When I have my gluten-free friends over, I make it my goal to make sure they aren’t missing out on what everyone else is eating, just because of their dietary needs. I never want anyone to feel excluded or left out, because we are serving something they can’t have. (Plus, no one wants a hangry friend!) Most grocery stores will have a designated gluten-free section, or you can find gluten-free products intermixed where you’d find your regular foods.
3. Learn to cook gluten-free meals.
You don’t have to be an incredible chef to make gluten-free food. Gluten is found in many grains such as wheat, barley and rye. However, a lot of food is naturally gluten- free (ie meats, fruits, veggies). Pinterest, instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms are a great place to find gluten free recipes that you can make for your gluten-less friend. If your loved one has Celiac Disease and lives in the same household, finding ways to prevent cross contamination (like washing dishes, creating a gluten safe space, having designated utensils) is an easy and tangible way to show support. Just being aware of cross contamination and safe cooking practices shows that you care, and can help keep your loved one from getting glutened.
Pro tip: Hosting a party? Tacos are a great party meal idea because they are so easy to make gluten free and no one would even know the difference. Corn tortillas & tortilla chips are naturally GF!
4. Download this app.
There are so many incredible resources out there to help you learn more about Celiac Disease and gluten-free eating. One of our favorite apps is “Find Me Gluten Free.” This app is an incredible way to find places near you that are deemed gluten friendly and/or Celiac safe! It’s basically a “gluten-free Yelp” and has tons of reviews from other gluten-free community members in your area. On this app, people will share their experiences with the accommodations of the restaurant, waiters, as well as a detailed review of the food itself. It also contains a database of several gluten free products and reviews from the other members. All you have to do is scan the barcode of the product at the grocery store and it will pull up all the info you are looking for. Definitely worth the download.
5. Do your research!
Whether your loved one is gluten-free by choice or necessity, understanding the “what” and the “why” shows your interest and support. Get to know what gluten is, what it does, and why it negatively affects your friend. The internet is packed with free articles, ebooks, podcasts, recipes, and so much more on gluten-less living. There is so much research and knowledge out there at your fingertips. Do research on places to eat, products to buy, meals to make, and find the resources you have at your disposal (like this blog if you haven’t read it yet!).
Eating gluten free is not an easy task, but I promise that doing these 5 things will make all the difference in the world to your loved one.