Enjoying Parties & Potlucks with Dietary Restrictions

Michelle Riffer


July 23, 2018

Enjoying Parties & Potlucks with Dietary Restrictions

It’s that time of year again when you find yourself at a meal with extended family, a party, a potluck or if you’re popular, maybe several of each!  As much fun as these gatherings can be, they can be equally stressful when you or your children deal with dietary issues.  As a Type 1 diabetic, I follow a strict low carb (sometimes called Ketogenic) way of eating to keep my blood sugar levels as close to “normal” as possible.  I’ve become a master at identifying the non-starchy veggies, cheese and meat in any spread and can typically enjoy a delicious meal without requiring too many special accommodations.

My children, on the other hand, do not have that same luxury.  They’re Celiac; if exposed to any gluten they have an autoimmune reaction that causes damage to the small intestine, resulting in medical complications and malabsorption of nutrients.  Any exposure, even crumbs or cross-contamination from sharing utensils, can cause them severe issues.  It’s not an anaphylactic reaction, for which we’re incredibly grateful, but it makes dining anywhere a bit dicey.

Salad Potluck Party

Thankfully, many of our family and friends take the extra effort to ensure our kids feel welcomed with GF choices or letting us know what’s being offered ahead of time so that we can come prepared with comparable alternatives.
It’s frustrating, however, when their dietary restrictions are viewed as a “fad” instead of a true medical issue.  I promise I know how annoying it is, I know because we have to deal with it at every meal and snack.  It’s also totally okay with me for a host to say they fell ill-equipped to handle their restrictions; better safe than sorry for all parties involved.

A good coping technique we’ve found is eating prior to events if possible, and always keep a few sweet and salty “safe” items in the van for unexpected situations.
We don’t want our family’s social interactions and connections to suffer because of food restrictions that already occupy so much of our time.  It’s a lifelong reality; we do our best to make it the least stressful situation possible.

Another coping technique is to equip your loved ones with a way to keep track of any dietary restriction and/or food allergy you possess. Everyone has that the loved one that is hosting an event who wants to cater to every guest needs. One hassle-free way to help the hosts is to connect through an app with an allergy listing feature. This way you can update your allergy list anytime and your connected loved ones can reference this list when preparing their party menu.

Do you or your family members have food restrictions or allergies?  How do you handle family gatherings, parties and pot lucks?  Have you hosted for anyone with dietary issues or allergies?  What advice would you give?  I’d love to hear what works for you!