Author: Elyse Wagner, MS Nutritionist & Mental Health Counselor
When you hear the word “date”, what thoughts cross your mind? Are you thinking about what you’ll wear, where you’ll go, etc… or that it could be an extremely anxiety producing activity? The question will inevitably come up where the date should take place; restaurant, park, movie? It sounds like there are a lot of factors involved in just a date. Have you ever thought about creating a guide for dating YOU? The gluten intolerant you, that is.
Well, here it is…some tips, ideas and a checklist to share information with dates, friends or significant others to ease the stress of preparing for a date or an event. So how, in fact do you date with a gluten intolerance?
From a personal note, there are a cascade of questions that run through my mind. Not to mention that these questions can bring on a myriad of emotions and feelings such as worry, anxiety and even fear.
Questions we may ask ourselves before going on a date:
• Where are we going to go for dinner?
• What am I going to order?
• When are we going…maybe I should eat something before I go out!
• How am I going to let this other person know about my restrictions? And…some may even ask,“Why am I even putting myself through the extra stress!? The list could literally go on forever!
I’d like to encourage you to press pause. Dating and socializing can create fear and anxiety…especially for someone dealing with an autoimmune disease or living a gluten free lifestyle. Most of the worry and stress is without cause. Just take a moment to step back and breathe! Know that you are ok. Everything is going to work out just fine.
First, and foremost, we Celiac and gluten intolerant individuals must be gentle with ourselves. Our bodies have gone through enough stress and inflammation. If you put the following tips into action, you should be able to alleviate most of your anxiety and enjoy yourself on a date, a night out with your significant other or friends!
Be up front:
State your needs such as Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance and explain if need be what that is (offer a brief description and importance of)
• If you are invited to someone’s home, prepare something you know you can eat.
• If the event is at a hotel, bar or restaurant, call ahead and make sure there is something you can eat. Once you arrive, confirm that your meal is being prepared and let the server knows where you are sitting.
• Always carry a package of almonds, rice crackers or a fruit/nut bar such and a piece of fruit.
Do Your Homework:
• Learn what grocery stores and restaurants offer gluten free food
• Know what you can eat.
• There are some great applications for your smart phone to help you locate options for gluten free dining when you are on the go: This site offers loads of options: http://glutenfreepassport.com/
• Offer up plenty of suggestions for different type of places that cater to your needs.
• Experiment making your favorite foods and confidently invite someone over for dinner
• Change your focus from food and suggest other outings such as:
– Walking or hiking
– Visiting a park, zoo or museum
– Attend a concert
Be Prepared- The Kiss List:
Depending upon how sensitive you are, you may need to ask the other person the following questions before going in for that first smooch!
• What did you eat today?
• What was the last thing you ate and when?
• When was the last time you brushed your teeth and flossed?
• When was the last time you washed your hands and face
I know this may seem a little ridiculous and sadly, there is not a lick of research out there stating in what percentage or parts per million it would take to cross contaminate a person. However, I can only imagine if eating something off a spoon that has been cross-contaminated has an effect, so can sharing a kiss (especially an intimate one)! You will have to tailor it to your specific needs and how your body reacts. A smooch could be cross contamination if you are highly sensitive. Above all— Stay Positive!
I’ve found that being confident, creative and positive are traits that are attractive to others. No matter what your personal issues are, those you are dating or socializing with will admire you for your ability to take charge of your needs! Although, there are some stipulations while dating a Celiac or gluten intolerance, it is most definitely possible, especially if you are prepared! Dining out can still be enjoyable especially since many restaurants are understanding and providing gluten free menus. Even further, so many restaurants are now complying with certified ways to prepare food to diminish if not avoid the chance of cross contamination. And so you are probably thinking, well this is great! I know how to date a Celiac, but what do I do if I’m living with or married to someone who is Celiac? Fear not, the jump is not that far!
As you can see, dating is doable and enjoyable. You may not be with someone who will completely flip their life upside down and go gluten free for you. However, the bottom line is that you can tailor the date to what you feel comfortable with to ease any added stress or tension!