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How Do I Handle Family Functions That Revolve Around Food?
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I have three functions coming up (1. brothers confirmation, 2. cousins first birthday, 3. cousins HS graduation) that I have been invited to and am really looking forward to going to. However, all of them have come with the caveat "wed love to have you but there will not be any gluten free food available". Two of the events are sit down dinners at catering halls, but the people throwing the parties would rather me bring my own food instead of calling the place to make something for me. The other is an outside BBQ. All three events are over 2 hours away (one way) from my home.

Does anyone have any suggestions of what I can bring, and how (with the long car ride) so that I have food to eat and dont feel totally out of place ? Im not a fan of being the center of attention so id rather not have the entire party looking at me wondering why i cant just eat what everyone else is.

How about heating up food? Would you trust a catering hall that you have not interacted with to heat up your food for you?

What have you done in similiar situations in the past? Any help or ideas would be really helpful! Im really starting to stress out about this and would really like to attend the parties, I wish so many celebrations were not centered around food!

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I have a big lunch box I purchased at Wal-Mart (mfg is Ozark). I sling that over my shoulder, like a purse. I use a couple of Coleman frozen fake ice bags to keep things cold. Nobody ever says a word about it, even though it's red. I pack my lunch every day and live in the deep south, work on the road and the bag sits in my hot car for quite a few hours while I'm doing what I do to make a living. I also have a small Coleman thermas for hot foods.

I don't like making a scene about what I eat either, prefer to fit in. For the first two events, I'd probabaly call family or the hall to see what they're serving, and pack a gluten-free equivalent.

I've never tried asking a caterer to warm something in the microwave. I'd want them to use parchment paper on top if they did.

Another option is to call the caterer to see if they really can't do something gluten-free. Many caterers are more understanding out of necessity these days. I'm pretty sure they can handle the salad course for you.

For the barbeque, I love a pork roast or chicken cooked in the crockpot or grilled with Cattleman's sauce (I buy it at Wal-Mart), it's less than $1.58, other posters have liked Sweet Baby Ray's. You can make coleslaw or potato salad and know it's safe. I like that in a lettuce wrap or on it's own. If things are hectic, just pack some chili from Wendy's on the way.

Welcome to the forum, by the way, hope you have fun at the events!

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My son and I are both gluten free and since my husband comes from a large, Irish family, we usually have several events a month. Since my son is very, very sensitive, he can't eat anything made in a "regular" kitchen, even if they try to do it gluten free. I bought us each the "Zojirushi Classic Bento Vacuum Lunch Jar" (online at Amazon) and it is perfect for bringing our meals wherever we go. Food stays hot for the day . . . I've brought home leftovers that are still warm after 6-8 hours. It is pretty compact, so it is neat and organized when you need to pull it out. It was expensive (for a fancy lunch box) but I figured that this is what we will be doing from now on so it was worth it. They have three sizes (classic, Mr. Bento, and Mrs. Bento) We have the classic and it hold a lot of food. Sometimes I just pack one and it holds enough for both of us.

I always try to make something similar to whatever is being served so we don't stick out too much.

If it is a pot luck type event, I bring our meal and also a side dish and dessert to share. If you bring something to share, make sure people know it needs to be kept separate. I've had several dishes ruined (for us) by someone using a different spoon (from another salad) or someone putting all the brownies on one plate to save room at the table, etc.

At the last wedding we were at, I did go into the kitchen to plate our food - but other places/events, I just whip out the containers and put it on a plate right at the table.

You will get good at it and it ends up being no big deal.

Cara

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It's also really positive that they have invited you to bring your own food. It's way less tricky than negotiating situations where they say "we've made something gluten free especially for you!" and you're then terrified that it's been contaminated (likely) and have to feel bad about not eating it (either pushing it around your plate in which case they are likely to try making something "gluten free" for you again another time or hurting feelings by saying outright that you appreciate the gesture but you can't eat it. Neither is fun :( )

It does get easier with time. I hope you have a good time at the events!

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I've been diagnosed celiac (via blood work and endoscopy) for a year now and I still have metaphorical panic attacks when it comes to eating at parties, be it with family or friends. The worst part is when you're around people you've never met and you have to explain why you're not eating x,y,z plus the other half of the alphabet. Not only do I worry about accidentally being glutened, I really worry about cross contamination.

Honestly, the best way I've learned to cope with it is 1. DON'T feel guilty about asking questions, no matter how strangely people look at you and 2. when in doubt, go with the plainest food at the table. A baked potato, beans, meat without gravy, a salad without dressing, I can usually find something I'm sure is safe---or hopefully a few somethings---and then I fill my plate up with that.

It is embarrassing to have to ask for a seperate 'allergy menu' at a restaurant though, and then explain to the server in front of everyone exactly what you can't have, and how the food is prepared. A year into my diagnosis and I really dread going to restaurants. Half the time I tell the waiter what I can't have, and he winces and explains the only thing they're sure is gluten free is the salad.

But what are you going to do, celiacs have to stay healthy, right?

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I would eat before the event or take a lunch that I could eat in the car and then have a green salad or something at the event (bring my own dressing). I wouldn't want to take food to be heated up and I would try to make things as simple as possible and not make a big deal out of my needs. Adopt a mindset that these events you are going to are just 1 day or so out of your life - not your whole life. Eat before you go, take a snack and eat when you get home if you need to...you'll be fine.

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Why are they telling you not to call? That's ridiculous and rude. Banquet halls and hotel ballrooms where they hold weddings and parties are the best at accommodating gluten free. Those types of events are where I've had the easiest time. They won't mind at all making you something. I even had great luck at a couple of things where it was a buffet. The chef came out and gave me a personal tour of the buffet before we got started so I knew what I could eat.

If they are embarrassed or feel like it will be extra trouble they need to get over it. These people are professionals and they are used to doing this. It will be fine and have ZERO affect on the people having the party.

I'm so upset for you that your family is treating you like this. Are they super uptight or something? I just don't understand why it matters to them if you call and get your own food straightened out. Do they have some weird idea that the banquet hall will be offended? They deal with thousands of people every year. They won't even remember your event.

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It is embarrassing to have to ask for a seperate 'allergy menu' at a restaurant though, and then explain to the server in front of everyone exactly what you can't have, and how the food is prepared. A year into my diagnosis and I really dread going to restaurants. Half the time I tell the waiter what I can't have, and he winces and explains the only thing they're sure is gluten free is the salad.

But what are you going to do, celiacs have to stay healthy, right?

That's why you always call ahead. Call in between lunch and dinner so the manager isn't busy with customers. Always speak to the manager NOT the waiters or hostess. Tell them you have an allergy because they understand that word. Ask them to help you figure out what you can eat in their restaurant. Ask if they will be working the day you come in and if not who the manager is that day. Get it all ready ahead of time.

Then on the day excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and instead find the manager. Get it squared away out of earshot of your party. Talk to your waiter too when you do that.

I've never had "the conversation" at a table in front of everyone at an event.

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This is a good topic, especially for today! Being Mother's Day, I was invited to my middle daughter's home along with her in-laws. Since I was newly diagnosed, the results for my daughters have not been determined, but there are some possible symptoms yet unexplained for anything else. This was an affair of about 25 people today. My daughter said, Mom, just bring a couple of your gluten free favorites, and we will have fresh veggies and fruits in our menu as well.

I realize this is not always the case, however, when it comes to caterers, many of them do appetizers of fresh foods. That is always a plus. Someone already mentioned eating at home before going....as well...and then yes, just bring something to nibble on.

Have been trying some gluten free recipes posted here, which is so nice. Trying to introduce gluten free prepared products later, so if it isn't fresh, I have been buying the special rice flour, xanthum gum, etc. It is hard after many years of eating gluten, but I like to cook, so am enjoying being a "Gluten free Chef"! (many of my cousins are Celiacs as well, so they have been sharing some recipes too)

Hope you can enjoy these special events in your life. :)

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