An Outsider’s Guide to Feeding the Celiac

An Outsider’s Guide to Feeding the Celiac


For someone neurotic like me, hostessing is nerve-wracking.  If TV has taught me anything, it’s that most dinner parties end up with small fires, exposed secrets or the trifle that Rachel makes on Friends.  The idea of wrangling that and preventing these disasters stresses me out!

My sister Kat was diagnosed with celiac a few years ago.  Cooking for someone with celiac adds another layer of pressure.  The only thing standing between my beautiful meal and giving her explosive diarrhea is a single bread crumb.   The stakes are enormous.

So option A is to dump your friend the second they get diagnosed, but you’re not a terrible person.  Plus if they’re like Kat, they’re freaking awesome and you need them in your life.

Let’s talk option B.  Here’s how you can successfully feed the gluten-free in 3 easy steps.


Luckily, someone with celiac will (or definitely should) tell you about it within 10 seconds of inviting them to eat.  When Kat was first diagnosed though, we didn’t realize that gluten is basically like a horror movie villain.  You think you’ve avoided it but the second you go to sigh in relief, BAM!  There it is!  So when you’re planning what to make – talk to your friend.  Spell out exactly what you’re planning on making and what ingredients you’re going to use.  Take pictures of the list of ingredients on things you aren’t sure of and ASK, ASK, ASK!!!

NEVER assume that something won’t have gluten because it creeps up in the weirdest of places.  Canned soup? Soy sauce?  Your celiac friend will have already figured out that VH soy sauce is gluten-free and that Campbell’s soup is not.  She will be able to tell you – but not unless you ask.


I have an annual make-your-own grilled cheese party (which I will eventually post about), which to Kat is a gluten contamination party.  The nature of it means that there is literally no way to prevent gluten from ending up on all the food there.

Kat’s solution is to bring her own food.  If I wasn’t cool, I would be like “but the party and the point and waaaah”.  But since I am cool, I just don’t care.  Sometimes the easiest course will be for them to bring their own food and just enjoy the company.  If that’s what they’re comfortable with, just be cool.  You can be a Martha Stewart hostess to everyone else.


If there are gluten-free things that you made specifically for your friend, or if you are setting aside things such as butter to keep safe from cross-contamination, label it so that everyone else there knows.  The worst thing in the world must be to watch some smug gluten-eating jerk eating the last gluten-free cupcake because they didn’t know any better.  Label it, set it aside, do what you need to do.

So there you have it – follow these steps and you will keep your relationships (and their digestive systems) intact!

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