Summer is officially here and people are starting up their grills. That means epic cookouts all season long. But if you’re trying to eat healthier or battle with food allergies, here are some tips that may ease your worries about whether or not you’ll get to enjoy cookouts like everyone else.
Communicate and Ask Questions
When I first checked out what was being served I was a little frustrated. I saw nothing but pork, beef, and fried fish. Unfortunately, I can no longer eat any of the three. So I spoke up about my food allergies and found out they were also grilling chicken and would go and get turkey burgers to throw on the grill. Just for me! You never know until you ask.
Don’t Come Empty Handed
Don’t be afraid to prepare and bring your own dish. Take a couple of days before the cookout to plan out what you would like to bring to guarantee that you will have something to eat. It’s also a great conversation starter. You never know how many other people could be dealing with the same food allergies. Trust me, they’ll greatly appreciate it. You will also be surprised at how many people are willing to try new things, like gluten free pasta salad for example.
I found myself becoming very creative with my food since being gluten-free. So while at the cookout I had to improvise a little. There was not a gluten-free bun in sight, but their was lettuce. So I wrapped my turkey burger up with lettuce and really enjoyed it. If the only salad dressing available is ranch and you have a dairy allergy, ask the host if they have oil and vinegar on hand and create your own dressing. When the cakes and pies start to come out, gather a little bit of each fruit that they have out and create your own mini fruit salad. You know what you can tolerate eating so grab that and get creative!
Surround Yourself with Company That Supports You
My first cookout experience being gluten-free was easier than I thought. I stressed out about going for almost a week. I was so worried about if I was going to be able to eat anything or if I was going to be that annoying gluten-free girl asking a million questions. However, the family and friends that were there were beyond supportive. They all kept asking if I was okay and if I had enough to eat. They offered to make grocery store runs for certain gluten-free products. A lot of them were so intrigued by me being gluten-free that they sat down with me and had great discussions about clean healthy eating. You never know who you can help or encourage to start eating better.
The best part of the day was when all the cakes, pies, and sweets came out. My brother and sister-in-law noticed I couldn't eat any of it, so we all took a trip to the grocery store in search of gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix. It was so much fun baking the cookies and watching them try them for the first time. Having them try something just for me and enjoy it really made my day. Having that kind of support is very heart warming.
Don’t exclude yourself from cookouts this summer. Don't let your food allergies stop you. Enjoy life and know it will get easier. I hope these tips and my experience can help you out this summer!