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Newly Diagnosed And Need Tips On How To Handle An Upcoming Event

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I wasn't entirely sure where to post this question so if I'm in the wrong place I apologize. Bear with me; I'm a newbie.

I'm now on day 6 of my new gluten-free life and am discovering that because much of my diet already consists of whole foods it's not as difficult as I originally expected. Avoiding cc because I share a kitchen with gluten eaters is the bigger hassle but again not terrible because my husband and daughter are helping. I'm still feeling emotionally fragile as I process this new, completely unexpected news but I'm hoping that will eventually subside as well. On the upside, I noticed that after only a few days the brain fog has lifted and the myriad odd little aches and pains are gone. It's amazing what gluten does to a body.

Anyway, my husband is a firefighter and we're attending his chief's 20th anniversary commemoration party on December 8th at the La Quinta hotel in our town. It's a full sit-down dinner with a limited menu offering a choice of beef, chicken or fish but I naturally worry about gluten-containing ingredients and cross contamination. We accepted the invite before my DX and because my husband is an officer he's expected to attend. I also don't want to miss the fun, so we agreed to go ahead with our plans to attend.

I'll deal with the emotional aspect of this when it comes...I'm hoping I'll have so much fun dancing and partying that I won't feel as isolated as I do now. But how do I handle the meal? I've read advice to eat before going to a party or bring something with me that I know is safe. But how do I handle an event with a dinner that's going to be prepared the same way for everyone? Should I contact the hotel ahead of time and explain my situation or seek out the maitre d' at the event and explain it to him privately? Or should I simply eat before we go and avoid the hassle altogether?


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It is possible the planned meal is gluten free, which you could find out by contacting whoever is in charge of that aspect. Of course, the potential for CC is high and it is possible that because your husband is an officer that you don't want him rushing you home sick right after you eat and that skipping their food is a better option so you can have fun! I would research your local area for gluten free restaurants or bakeries and find a nice treat for yourself if there is one. You can tuck a small sandwich or dinner container in your purse and ask for a plate as everyone is served so you don't have to watch people eat. You can also do this with something you make yourself. Whether you choose not to eat or to eat something you bring, if you want a quick way to deflect attention if someone brings it up, you can say something like I was recently diagnosed with celiac and have to eat gluten free, but we aren't here to talk about me... insert topic changer here.

Lots of people do the eat before thing. It isn't a bad plan at all, and I'm not saying it is. But come on... do you WANT to sit there and watch people eat? I wouldn't. When I was newly diagnosed I was not emotionally at a place where I would have been okay with that. If you are, great. But do only what you are comfortable with. I get that the going or not isn't optional, but how you choose to handle it is. As time goes on you'll find what works for you.

As for contacting ahead of time or at the event? Definitely ahead of time. There will be a lot going on that night and if you wait, the person you find to talk to may not be able to answer your questions or help you out at all. The last thing you want is to be hungry and unable to arm yourself with information.


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Defintely talk to the head chef or caterer for the event ahead of time. They may be able to prepare something for you or buy something gluten-free themselves. They could probably do at least a salad ok but maybe not the salad dressing. There may be other people at the event who are dining gluten-free also, it woudln't be unusual these days.


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Here are some thoughts on this:

1. Talk to the caterers weeks in advance and decide if they seem trustworthy or even willing -

just went to an awards dinner, had to go because Hub was winning the award. The college it was held at has an excellant culinary school. If they were catering, I was willing to take a chance. When I found out they weren't the ones making the food, I didn't really want to trust them. The food service people didn't want to try to make anything gluten-free. Turned out there was a breading on the chicken and the whole plate had gravy on it. Any banquet at a La Quinta - I'm not trusting the caterer unless I have some personal knowledge of them. I'm betting it is an outside caterer, too, so you may have to talk to the Fire Dept "party planner" first. High end caterers or places that have fancy events might be OK. If you will just be stressed about the food, don't try it.

2. Eat first - This would have worked in this case because the food they were eating didn't look very tasty. No one was very pleased with it. If you choose this option, bring a little treat that you can eat like jelly beans or chocolate chips. Avoid the appetizer table. Bring some crackers or little pieces of cheese if you need something. Grab a little plate and it will blend in. Eating first works well if its a buffet and people are not all eating at once. You can always wander away from the food.

3. Bring your own food- This caterer said they would plate and heat food for me. This probably would have worked as it was a waitress that would do it and I think she would have taken care of my food. I chose to bring a steak salad so all I needed was a big plate. Build the salad upside down in the "Tupperware" Then you flip it onto the plate and the steak and cheese are on top. It was 10 times more delicious than the other food. If you bring your food, get a large purse that the containers will fit in. You can set it down by your seat at the table when you get there or check it with the coats (so you only have to carry a little purse for cocktail hour.) Won't look as silly as my orange polka dot lunch box. I got one at Target that was meant for carrying a laptop in. Fake leather & I figure I will use it over the years so didn't mind the $30.

4. If you know who wil be seated at your table, maybe hub could mention the Celiac thing ahead of time. Everyone at our table knew so I didn't get any questions or odd looks. When you are new to this, you probably don't want to make a fuss/be noticed. I'm old enough and been doing this long enough that I usually don't care.

5. Whatever you decide on the food, you will need to find the caterer or event planner when you get there to show them where you are sitting, etc.

Hope that was helpful.


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