Young and Gluten-Free: Self-Sufficiency
One of the greatest tasks of young adulthood is learning how to be self-sufficient. When you are young and living gluten-free, cultivating an attitude of self-sufficiency will also help reduce stress and awkwardness in social situations.
After all, it’s hard to be different when you’re young.*
The following recommendations will help you prepare for the (sometimes very challenging) aspects of living gluten-free as a young adult.
One way to ensure you will have safe food and drinks at parties and other social events is to bring your own gluten-free options. For catered events, like weddings, you may need to go through some additional steps to eat safely.
Always check with the host to see if there is anything specific that will be helpful to bring to the event. Offer to bring a main dish and beverage, but you can always pack a food bag and/or pre-eat to make sure you are not too focused on your hunger to socialize.
Research and patronize local gluten-free dining options at varying price points, from fast food to fine dining. Once you have an arsenal of safe gluten-free options near you, you can suggest them when friends are making plans.
Keep in mind that you may spend a lot more money or a lot less depending on your comfort level with the dining option. Fine dining often offers more selection than fast food—more experienced (and highly paid) chefs receive much more advanced training in managing food intolerances.
If there is a social event planned at a place you are not comfortable eating, it’s okay to just order a special drink and focus on the socializing. Make sure to pre-eat or stash your own food in your car or food bag.
Save Your Dough
One of the biggest concerns for young adults living gluten-free is budget. Gluten-free food can be expensive.
The following tips may help you save some dough (forgive the pun—I couldn’t help myself):
- Eat as naturally gluten-free as possible
- Buy whole foods whenever you can
- Purchase less packaged or pre-made foods
- Think creatively
- Buy mixes instead of pre-baked goodies
- Use corn tortillas instead of GF bread
- Fill up on hearty vegetarian options like hummus, beans, and quinoa
- Dine out less often (see below)
- Make your own snacks and treats
Treat. Yo. Self.
When all else fails, find some gluten-free friends and Treat. Yo. Self.
Dine out occasionally at really great gluten-free restaurants with the friends who will really appreciate it.
*I can’t claim to be young anymore, but I’m fortunate to have sisters who are young and gluten-free—a big thank you to them for helping me compile information for this series.