During Coeliac Awareness Week 2015, the awesome and fabulous guys at Genius commissioned a survey that highlighted some unsettling results. Here is what they found:
39% of people don’t know how to cook for someone with a specific dietary requirement
80% don’t know where to start when catering for coeliacs and those avoiding wheat and gluten
20% of those with a specific diet requirement have felt excluded from social events
Over a 3rd of those lucky enough to be invited have been forced to go without food because their dietary requirements haven’t been catered for (and I have personally been in this situation myself!)
But according to the Survey, over 2000 adults deliberately refuse to cook or cater for those with specific dietary requirements, not because they are being cruel and unkind, but because they are scared of getting it wrong and worse – making their guest very ill.
Additionally it’s not just the hosts that deliberately avoid inviting guests with specific dietary requirements, 49% of those with dietary requirements will avoid social events, meals out, holidays etc as they’re worried their needs will not be met!
So what do we do? Here I’ve listed my own tips for those hosting an event, organising a meal out or having friends round for dinner who may have a guest who has Coeliac Disease and avoid wheat and gluten. Feel free to leave a comment below if you know of any more tips or helpful advice that will help others:
LABELS ARE EASY TO READ
All packaged food within the UK must list whether a product contains wheat or gluten (and other allergens). They have also made it easy by highlighting ‘wheat’ and ‘gluten’ in the ingredients so you can see this immediately. They also list these in the ‘allergen box’ which is usually situated after the ingrediants, however this is being phased out (only because it’s become easier to read the ingredients)
WATCH FOR OTHER INGREDIENTS
Unfortunately for Coeliacs we don’t just avoid wheat and gluten, but we also avoid; Rye, Barley, Oats, Spelt and Kamut. So remember to look out for these ingredients if you’re catering for a Coeliac.
MAY CONTAIN LABELLING
Manufacturers will use this label if the product may contain wheat/gluten because it was either made on a line that handles wheat/gluten or made in a factory that also handles wheat/gluten. Personally I am OK with this risk (as *touch wood* I have not been ‘glutened’ yet) but some people are very sensitive to wheat/gluten, and understandably don’t want to take this risk. If you come across this labelling and are still unsure, I’d recommend speaking to your guest who has Coeliac Disease.
SPEAK TO YOUR COELIAC GUEST
If you’re unsure, nervous, anxious about hurting your guest – speak to them! After all they don’t want to be ill nor do they want you to be so worried! They may be able to offer advice or guide you in the right direction. If you’re planning on eating out, they may know of restaurants that cater for Coeliacs or alternatively what products to buy or dishes to make.
DO SOME RESEARCH
They are some amazing blogs and websites that offer great and honest advice, delicious recipes and product/restaurants reviews! If you’re unsure where to start, I have listed my favourite ‘Gluten Free Go-To Blogs’ [here]. I also list easy Gluten Free Receipes [here] as well as a list of Gluten Free Restuarants that cater for Coeliacs or those who need to avoid wheat and gluten [here]
BE CAREFUL OF CROSS CONTAMINATION
You’ll be doing everything correctly. You’ve read the labels religiously, sourced and bought the right gluten free products but you’ve just used the same spoon to stir your own gluten ridden pasta with the gluten free pasta! This can be a disaster for coealics as we can become very ill from cross contamination! Just a small amount of wheat and gluten can make us poorly! Try not to fret and worry too much when cooking but do be careful and mindful!
DON’T FEEL BAD ASKING YOUR GUEST TO BRING OWN DISHES OR PRODUCTS
Gluten free food is expensive. A loaf of gluten free bread can cost a whopping £3! So don’t feel bad for asking your coeliac guest to bring their own products – they’ll be more than happy to oblige! Also don’t feel bad about asking your guest to bring their own dishes either. If you’re that worried about poisoning your guest with gluten so much so that you’re considering not inviting them – ask!
NATURAL GLUTEN FREE PRODUCTS
Sometimes you don’t have to buy expensive alternatives or read food labels to find gluten free products as some are gluten free naturally. I’m talking about any fresh meat, vegetables, fruit, rice, potatoes, pulses and fish!