Surviving Summer Cookouts on an Allergy-Friendly Diet

The following post is from Amy of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free:

source: iStock Photos

Memorial Day is right around the corner, and so are lots of summer cookouts, picnics, and BBQs.

Anyone on a restricted diet will tell you that invitations to these events can cause waves of anxiety, especially if the dietary change is new.

Do you accept the invitation? If so, do you eat? Will there be anything to eat? And, if you’ve got children who have specific dietary needs, how do you handle that?

Take a deep breath! It’s simpler than it may seem. Here are five simple survival tips that will ensure that you enjoy the event.

Eat before you show up.

This was my first line of defense for many years, especially when I didn’t have a close relationship with the hostess. I still use it today in certain situations, and it’s likely I’ll pack a snack or two if the event is long. I used to worry that people would wonder why I wasn’t eating, or why I was only eating fruits and veggies. I quickly learned that most people aren’t that concerned with my food.

Ask the hostess ahead of time about the menu.

I am most comfortable using this survival tip when I have a relationship with the hostess, if the event is intimate, or if they already know I can’t eat wheat or refined white sugar. I learned to do this the hard way. I was invited to a dinner party, and there were eight people in attendance, including my husband and I. I didn’t make the call ahead of time because I was worried about ‘causing a problem.’ I couldn’t eat anything that was served. The hostess was so embarrassed, though she gracefully whipped up a salad for my entree and some fresh fruit for dessert. I felt horrible and vowed I’d never put anyone in that position again.

Offer to bring food.

We were recently invited to a a three-year-old’s birthday party. Nate, my 15 month-old son, is gluten-free and dairy-free. I would have never contacted the hostess, but I couldn’t take him to a party where he couldn’t eat anything. So, I offered to bring dessert. She was quite gracious and accepted. This works well with dinner parties, too. Most of my friends and family are happy to have me bring a dish or two to share with everyone. And, I’m happy because I can eat.

Advocate for your children

Even when I’m attending a family get-together and everyone there knows about Nate’s diet, they often forget when it comes to planning the menu. I’ve learned that it’s not personal at all. People naturally revert to what they know when cooking and baking. I’ve had to constantly remind people that I need to have food that Nate can eat. Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but it’s my responsibility to take care of my son’s needs. This is another time when I offer to cook.

Don’t focus on the food.

As long as you or your child has an adequate meal, let the rest of it go. Learn to enjoy the people you’re with, even if you can’t share in the exact same meal they’re eating. It’s easy to feel on the outside when everyone else is eating cheeseburgers on tasty buns, and you’ve got a plate full of lettuce. Remember that the most important thing is spending time with those around you.

How do you handle meals? If you’re hosting an event, what do you do to include those who have food allergies?

A stay-at-home mom, wife, and passionate cook, Amy strives to make each meal healthy and delicious. When she’s not doing laundry, dishes, or caring for her son, she plays around with food in the kitchen developing new recipes, which she shares at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. Amy also publishes The Balanced Platter and authored the book Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free: 180 Easy & Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less.