1. Participate in the meal planning.
Call the host in advance. Let them know you’re gluten-free and the other special dietary needs your family has. Find out if they are up for the challenge. Discuss with them what they plan to serve. Ask how you can help. Providing some gluten-free recipes can make it easier for the host.
2. Educate the host
It can be stressful for a host when they are not knowledgeable about special dietary needs—and they certainly don’t want to feed you something that will make you or your children sick. Educate them on hidden sources of gluten and simple alternatives. This will make a more pleasant experience and provide the host a better feeling of certainty. For example, some people put flour in a demi-glaze for a turkey—by talking these things out you can eliminate any surprises.
3. Enjoy all of the naturally gluten-free and dairy-free foods.
Help the host see all of the naturally gluten free and dairy free foods available. This will help them see how easy it can be to be GFCF. Vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, and nuts are free of gluten and dairy. Encourage the host to put dressings on the side so that your family can enjoy these foods in their natural state free of allergens.
4. Discuss cross-contamination.
If you are at someone else’s home, educate the host on cross-contamination. If the meal is not fully GFCF, inform the host of the need to use different serving utensils for the special items and the guests not to mix up the serving pieces.
If the dinner is served as a buffet and not fully GFCF, see if you can help arrange the GFCF dishes together is a separate spot.
5. Bring gluten-free versions of your favorite dishes
If you have kids that LOVE a particular dish, offer to cook and bring the dish for everyone to share. For example, if you know your kids are going to want pumpkin pie and you’ve already perfected it, make it yourself.
6. Bring staple ingredients.
Bringing gluten-free bread, a gluten-free flour blend, or your favorite dairy-free butter alternative, can make it easier for the host. It also prevents you from feeling you are “imposing” on a host that is unfamiliar with your special diet. Bringing a few staples can help you whip up a special diet-compliant option on the spot.