Kid’s Corner: Do You Really Need to Order Gluten Free?
“I don’t want to be different…difficult…bring attention to myself…have to speak in front of everyone…”
We get it. It isn’t necessarily fun to learn that the best way for your body to thrive looks a bit different than some of the people in your life, especially when the one thing you want is to fit in and be like your friends and classmates.
As you get older, though, you’re going to learn that nothing will make you happy until you are taken care of and healthy…and this includes successfully managing your celiac disease and/or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
You’re newly diagnosed and learning how to navigate eating gluten free & preventing cross contact with gluten-containing foods. Figuring these things out at home is one thing, but bringing it on the road to your friend’s house is another.
The first rule of needing to eat gluten free: understand that it’s the puzzle piece to making you feel better.
When you feel better, you’ll know your body is healing and you’re on the road to performing better. Once you understand that omitting gluten is one of the tools in your toolbox for feeling more like yourself, the less likely you’ll let feelings of embarrassment dictate the foods you eat.
By far the easiest tactic is to bring your own snacks and back up meals just in case. Consider what you and your friends will be eating and look for the gluten-free alternative if possible. This way when they’re enjoying s’mores or pizza, you’ll be enjoying s’mores or pizza as well.
Not sure what’s on the menu? Team up with your parents to talk to the parents you’ll be with or simply talk it out with your friends. The more you know, the stronger your planning game will be.
Going Out to Eat
Research your options.
Understand not all restaurants have gluten-free options or even a safe space in their kitchen to ensure menu items can stay free of cross contact. What to do? Prepare.
Learn what restaurant options are available to choose from and then check their gluten-free offerings and practices. To verify a restaurant is gluten free, visit their website and/or call them. Speaking to the chef directly is the most successful way to ask about menu options and preparation methods. Calling ahead is also perfect for getting comfortable before ordering in front of your friends.
Your meal, your way.
You’ve done the research; you’ve investigated your options. Now it’s time to put your plan into motion. Keep in mind, the waitstaff taking your order has no idea what your needs are- they’re only as good as you help them to be. So, help them help you. Ask for a gluten-free menu if available.
When it comes to your turn, tell the waitstaff directly “I need to eat gluten free.” Tell them what you decided to order and ask that it doesn’t come into contact with anything else that may have gluten.
Keep in mind certain dishes could contain gluten, even if they may not when you cook them at home. Verify that the following are gluten free:
- Soy sauce
- Mashed potatoes
- Rice “mixes”
- Scrambled eggs
- Salads with croutons
- Breaded foods
- Foods cooked in a shared fryolator
After these steps, the control is out of your hands. You’ve done the best you could to prepare; now it’s up to the waitstaff to relay the information to the kitchen in preparation of your meal.