Thoughtful Ways to Serve A Friend With Celiac’s In Your Home


Inviting a friend with celiac disease to dinner may feel daunting if you don’t know much about the condition. You’ll be under a lot of pressure to keep them safe — and rightfully so. Celiac disease should always be taken seriously. 

Including your friend in your dinner plans will mean more to them than you realize — people with celiac disease are often afraid of burdening others with their demands or eating out at all. While the many rules of gluten-free cooking may make your head spin, following these thoughtful suggestions to a T will keep your friend healthy and safe during your gathering.

What Is Celiac Disease?

Before you host a friend with celiac’s, it’s best to know what the condition actually is. Perhaps you’ve heard of gluten before — a protein naturally occurring in wheat products, barley and rye. Examples of gluten foods are pasta, cereal, bread, beer and pastries. However, you may be surprised that gluten can appear in non-food items, such as shampoo, lipsticks and toothpaste.

Celiac disease is a digestive and immune disorder that negatively affects the small intestine. When celiac patients consume gluten or use gluten-containing food, they have difficulty digesting the gluten protein and suffer severe intestinal and external bodily side effects. Those with severe cases may struggle to absorb essential nutrients, too. 

Nearly 3 million Americans have celiac disease, which is hereditary and can develop within any demographic or age group — many more people claim gluten sensitivity. However, although some symptoms overlap — such as fatigue and stomach ache — a sensitivity to wheat doesn’t impact the small intestine.  

Symptoms of Being Glutened

So, what happens if your friend gets glutened? People with celiac disease suffer some very uncomfortable side effects. Common celiac symptoms include the following:

  • Stomach ache and bloating
  • Gas, constipation and diarrhea
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Brittle nails
  • Mouth sores
  • Reduced muscle tone
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Mood changes

Nearly 15% of celiac patients also develop itchy dermatitis herpetiformis — the “gluten rash” or “celiac rash” — that appears around the elbows, knees, scalp or buttocks.

6 Tips for Serving a Gluten-Free Friend

Don’t fret about inviting your gluten-free friend over for a meal. You can accommodate their dining needs with careful planning and open communication. Here are six tips for hosting and serving a friend with celiac disease.

  • Discuss the Menu With Your Friend

If you’re confused about celiac disease and where to begin planning your menu, don’t hesitate to speak with your friend. They can fill in whatever knowledge gaps you may have. 

Consider working with your friend to develop the menu to ensure you provide a safe meal for them. Also, ask them for resources to read up on gluten-free ingredients and recipes you can follow — they’ll likely have plenty they can provide. 

  • Check Ingredients

When shopping for your get-together, always check every product’s ingredients. You can rest assured that fresh produce doesn’t contain gluten, but many other products will — especially spices and processed foods. 

Fortunately, there is usually a gluten-free section at the grocery store and many alternative products are marked as gluten-free. That will make finding safe products and ingredients for your friend’s meal easier. 

  • Provide Gluten-Free Options

Once you choose the main course, decide whether to create a separate gluten-free version or if everyone will enjoy the gluten-free entree with your friend — most people can’t tell the difference between regular and celiac-friendly offerings. 

For instance, you can combine gluten-free penne with homemade walnut pesto sauce and fresh vegetables from the farmers market. You might also put out gluten-free crackers during appetizers with a crudité platter and various kinds of cheese. 

  • Thoroughly Clean Your Prep Station and Tools

Despite newer research highlighting potentially lower contamination risks from gluten-containing products to non-gluten products, cross-contamination remains a heightened concern for celiac patients.

People with severe celiac disease can get sick from a single gluten crumb, so why take any chances? Thoughtful care for your celiac friend should entail cleaning your prep station, appliances and utensils thoroughly before cooking. 

Run everything through the dishwasher and use a good cleaner to wipe down the counters, stovetop, grill mats and other surfaces that touched gluten. You should also wash any previously-used serving platters to remove gluten residue.

  • Wash Your Hands

Likewise, washing your hands before preparing a gluten-free meal is another preventative measure against transferring gluten to non-gluten food. Hopefully, you’re preparing your friend’s meal first anyway, but you can never be too careful.

You should also wash your hands between handling different items while you serve your guests. This act will put your friend at ease and let them know you’re doing everything possible to protect them.

  • Serve Your Friend First

Like cooking your friend’s gluten-free meal first, you should also consider serving them before the rest of your guests. Allowing your friend to take their food first reduces the chance of cross-contamination. 

For instance, someone might take a piece of bread and then grab the utensils to put the main course on their plate. Your friend may then touch the utensils without realizing it and get glutened. To be extra safe, keep your friend’s food on the other end of the counter or island. 

Take Celiac Disease Seriously for Your Friend

Celiac disease is no laughing matter and your friend struggles daily to protect themselves from further intestinal damage. You should absolutely invite your gluten-free friend to share a meal — but a true friend will always take their diet seriously. 

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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