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Stay safe and gluten free this Labor Day!

It’s easy to stay safe and gluten free if you’re  hosting the Labor Day celebration. You have a barbecue sauce and salad dressing that you are confident in and all of your recipes have passed your taste and safety tests. After all, you’re a pro at keeping yourself safe; you’ve been doing it for a long time.

But what do you do when you’re the guest? Your friends and family would never want to make you sick, but there’s a lot of misinformation about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity circulating. Even close friends and family, despite their good intentions, might make some mistakes. How can you enjoy being a guest at someone else’s Labor Day party while still staying safely away from any traces of gluten?

Here’s a few helpful hints to help you enjoy a gluten free holiday!

Tip #1 – Bring Gluten-Free Snacks

Bring your own dish! Of course, you’ll be sharing, right? So, bring something that is served in individual portions, like deviled eggs. Although dips are standard fare for barbecues, even if a dip is gluten-free you won’t be able to monitor everything that gets dipped. There’s always a risk that someone will use pita chips, slices of bread, or some other gluteny dipper that will create a problem.
You may also want to bring your item in duplicate – one container of your famous gluten-free cheese dip that’s just for you, and one you can put out on the table for everyone to enjoy.

Tip #2 – Don’t Go Hungry

Eat before you go. It’s not the most festive, but it will save you from taking risks about what you are able to eat for hunger’s sake. It could be that you’ll arrive and there will be little that you’ll feel safe eating. Don’t forget to check make sure your emergency rations are stocked! (Yes, we all have a stash in the car, you know, just in case!)

Tip #3 – Be Proactive

Keep your eyes peeled for potential cross contamination on the grill. Consider bringing your own meat or vegetables if needed. Most hosts will be happy to place your portion on foil, or wrap it in a foil envelope to stay on the safe side. You may also want to ask your host to set aside small portions of everything for you ahead of schedule (or let you have first dibs) – this way your plate can be like everyone else’s, before they start contaminating the gluten-free items.

Tip #4 – Ask, Ask, Ask

If you’re not sure, ask! Sure, you have an encyclopedic knowledge of brands that are safe, but if the package isn’t available, do make a point to ask your host about the ingredients. Especially when it comes to marinades and meat blends! Some cooks use breadcrumbs in their hamburger patties, and even some cold cuts aren’t free from gluten.

Tip #5 – Celiac Doesn’t Take Vacations

No cheating! Yes, that sheet cake looks really good and everybody is enjoying their hamburgers. Don’t risk hours of misery on a fleeting indulgence! And that goes for the frosting on the cake, too – just because it doesn’t look like there are cake crumbs on it doesn’t mean that it’s gluten-free.

Tip #6 – What’s in your Cup?

Don’t forget to check the cooler! Beer (even light beer) has gluten. Wine or hard cider are good alternatives.

Tip #7 – Focus on the Fun

Enjoy yourself! That is the whole point of getting together with all of these fine folk, right?

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