Once you begin living gluten-free, the first dinner party invite can be a bit tricky or slightly uncomfortable if not handled with care. While it’s natural to be grateful for whatever your host serves you, when you’re gluten intolerant you have no choice but to let them know what you can and cannot eat before they begin shopping and preparing a meal for you.
From an etiquette perspective this can feel awkward, particularly if you’re not all that close with the host. But the worst thing you can do is not say anything and cross your fingers that you will be able to eat what they prepare. You’ll run the risk of getting sick or being embarrassed when you let your host know you can’t eat what they may have spent hours making. Avoid this unpleasant scenario with the following tips for handling an invitation with poise.
• When you receive an invitation to dinner, be proactive from the start. First, let your host know how thankful you are, but that you can’t eat wheat and gluten and your dietary needs can be quite challenging. This may be unfamiliar territory for your host and they will likely have several questions. Offer to email a list of the most common ingredients that you must avoid as a primer for your host when designing their menu and shopping list.
• Offer to bring gluten-free alternatives such as salad dressing, dinner rolls, or even wheat-free soy sauce if a stir-fry is planned. Politely try to find out all ingredients being used before you eat, and best case scenario, before the dinner is even made. Questions up front will eliminate apologies later.
• Offer to bring a gluten-free dessert as a gesture of appreciation and to take the stress off your host for this often tricky portion of the meal.