Hosting a Guest with a Gluten Intolerance

Hosting a guest with a gluten intolerance can be stressful. You love them, but it sounds like a tough food limitation to work around, and you wonder 'How careful do I really have to be?'.

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance or allergies are real medical conditions. People who live with these conditions MUST stay away from wheat, barley, rye and most oats 100% of the time. 'Just a little bit' is not an option - even microscopic amounts can hurt. Believe me - nobody would love to be able to have a slice of 'real' pizza more than someone who hasn't had one in months, or even years.

Here are a few tips to help you host a gluten free guest - for just one meal, or for the weekend:

1. Involve your gluten-free guest in the menu planning and save yourself having to become a gluten-free expert.

2. Simplest foods from the 'outer edges of the grocery store' are the safest and healthiest. Fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, milk and cheese are all naturally gluten free. Carbs such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and rice are also safe.

3. If you choose processed foods - they should be labeled gluten free. Even safe-sounding foods, like corn flakes (which contains barley malt), may not be gluten free.

4. If you serve foods that are not gluten-free to accommodate your own family or other guests, avoid cross-contamination in the prep. Always prepare gluten free items first if possible, and definitely on a clean work surface. If using a grill - thoroughly clean the grill of any possible gluten contaminates before using for gluten free items.

5. Invite your guest to bring some food - especially desserts/baked items. It's not fun to be eating plain ice cream or fruit when everyone else is enjoying a decadent piece of cake or pie.

6. Cross-contamination can come in surprising places - your guest with a gluten intolerance can't eat 'the outside' of a turkey that had stuffing in it, or pick the croutons off of a salad and eat the rest, use butter or jam or a dip from a communal serving dish, or even have a piece of toast from a toaster used for regular bread. If someone puts a spoon from the pasta dish into the potatoes - the potatoes have to be considered as contaminated, and they won't be able to eat them.

7. Provide enough serving utensils so that there are one or more in each dish, and remind family and other guests not to move the serving utensils around.

8. If you believe there may be a real concern with cross-contamination, group safe items away from unsafe items.

9. Give your gluten-free guest a tour of the food. Encourage them to place any dips they would like on a separate plate.

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