Eating Gluten Free When With Friends

One issue I’ve had a hard time with since going gluten free is eating when attending activities with friends. I want to be a normal, active teenager, yet not being able to eat can sometimes limit what I can or can’t participate in.

One example I’ve dealt with fairly recently is going to the bowling alley with my youth group. They had planned to leave the church at 5, eat there, and then stop by McDonald’s on the way back home for snacks/deserts. Since I knew the bowling alley would be serving cheesburgers, I planned on eating a salad at McDonald’s on the way home. However, we ended up leaving the bowling alley later than planned and had to skip McDonald’s, leaving me to go home without eating any dinner.

This scenario is unfortunately rather common. Either I can’t eat, or I have to ask people to make special accomodations for me, which I hate doing. The only other option is to just stay at home and avoid activites at which I might not be able to eat. This presents an uncomfortable dilemma between going hungry, feeling like I’m an inconvenience to others, or never doing anything with friends. None of these are very appealing to me, so I’ve come up with a few tips to help me deal with Celiac as an active teen.

  • See if you can eat before/after.

For example, if I know that my youth group usually goes out to eat after church on Sunday night, I may decide to eat dinner at home and then just accompany them without eating at a restaurant. Or, if I’m going to a party that lasts from 5-8, I have the option of eating dinner when I get home.

  • Bring snacks with you.

If I know I will be getting hungry while out and about, or if I’ll be eating late because I’ve decided to eat at home after an event, I often bring snacks with me to tide me over till mealtime. This is especially helpful to me because if my blood sugar starts getting low, I tend to start feeling bad. Some good snacks may include granola bars, pretzels, protein bars, fruit, and nuts (all gluten free, of course).

  • See if the place where you’ll be going has gluten free accommodations.

The summer after I went gluten free, I was very disappointed because I thought I wouldn’t be able to go to the summer camp I have been attending for years. I was very happy to learn that they would provide a special gluten free menu upon request. Don’t forget to ask the management of wherever you’re going about gluten free foods. They may very well have them.

  • Familiarize yourself with a few common fast food restaurants and their gluten free selections.

This way you will always have an idea of where and what you can eat when you’re out and about. For instance, I know off the top of my head what I can order at Chick-Fil-A, Wendy’s, Braums, and McDonalds. This way I don’t have to scramble to google it if somebody should ask where we should eat.

Keeping up with activities was pretty tough when I first went gluten free, but over time I adapted and learned how to deal with it. If you’re new to this, don’t get discouraged or put too much pressure on yourself. It really is a steep learning curve. These tips are just a few general ideas I’ve come up with to help get you started. Over time, you’ll learn what works best for you and how to deal with your own unique circumstances.