We all have that friend or family member who says “no thanks, it’s gluten free isn’t it?” or the less favorable, “Ew, gluten free?” You probably found already that our eager explanations that gluten free food is delicious makes no impact on pre-established opinions. Here are some alternative strategies to help you show your community that gluten free food can be delicious. The best part? Your gluten free skeptics will come to this realization all by themselves.
In many communities, food is love. My family definitely views food this way. We share holidays over food, we gift food, we go out to eat, and many of our activities center around meals together and special treats. Most of us eat at least three times a day, every day, so making eating an enjoyable activity seems an easy secret to a happy life.
With celiac disease, the only food I can safely contribute is gluten free, of course. I think my food is pretty great, and since I was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 23, I spent most of my life eating non-gluten free foods; I think I have a good sense of both sides of the comparison.
In fact, I would argue that I eat tastier and healthier meals now than I did before. If a genie took away my celiac disease and allowed me to eat wheat again, I would continue eating gluten free (at least most of the time).
When it comes to sharing gluten free food with my community, there are a few challenges:
1. Making a tasty gluten free treat is often time intensive.
There are less pre-made mixes for gluten free eaters, and many do not compare to wheat-filled ones in terms of taste and texture. For this reason, especially when I’m sharing food with all types of eaters, I choose to make most of my baked goods from scratch.
2. Gluten free ingredients are often more expensive than non-gluten free ones.
In Seattle, gluten free pasta ranges from $4-9 while regular pasta is just over $1 a pound. Gluten free flours ring up at nearly $20 vs under $10 for traditional flours. The hit to your bank account is real.
Since I put extra effort and money into my gluten free party contribution, negative comments are particularly disheartening.
And what about those skeptics who exclaim: “it’s pretty good for gluten free”? While intended as a compliment, I would argue that my treats are pretty good in general, and like I said previously, I ate painfully without knowledge of dietary restrictions for 23 years.
But alas, if convincing someone to try a treat with negative preconceived notions does not work, what does?
Here are 4 easy Strategies to Persuade Anyone to Love Gluten Free Food:
Strategy 1: Sneaky Chocolate Chip Cookies
Slip your best chocolate chip cookies in the center of the dessert table at a party. We’re not talking about the healthy, “slip a vegetable in” kind of cookie here, we’re talking about the real deal. Chocolate chip cookies are an easy crowd pleaser and draw less initial attention to the person who brought them since they are so common. I’ve tried bringing fancy and attractive looking desserts, but they are quickly credited to me and labeled gluten free.
The Method: Alright friends, this one requires stealth. The dessert table is often a busy place and discreetly sneaking your cookies into the center can be tougher than it sounds. My favorite tactic is to wait for a lull in new guests delivering desserts. While everyone is busy with conversation, walk casually over (cookies behind the back) do a sneaky spin around and place the cookies near the center. Then walk away or join the conversation.
*Always make less cookies than you think you will need. When people begin lamenting the finished cookies or asking for the recipe and who brought them, proudly state that it was you and you used gluten free flour. Weren’t they delicious?
*Don’t give the gluten free status of the cookies away by eating one yourself. In fact, if it comes up that you can’t have the deserts, nod solemnly. Besides, you were snacking on them when you made them anyway, right?
*Avoid bean flours. Yes, they are delicious most of the time, but I do believe they have a slight aftertaste that takes some getting used to. If you’re a big fan, choose bean flours as a second or third exposure to gluten free goodies for your non gluten-free friends.
Pro Tip: I find rice flour to be the sneakiest of the gluten free flours, and anything made with Pamela’s baking mix is sure to please! Tapioca flour is also an excellent choice for taste and texture, but beware of its stickiness; it’s best used as part of a flour blend.
Strategy 2. Host a naturally gluten free dinner party.
Choose seafood, asparagus, brussel sprouts, roasted broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes - anything that is a mainstay in your culture and is naturally gluten free. Avoid gluten free grains for first exposure since guests may dwell more on differences between the gluten free and traditional grains than focusing on the familiarity of the meal.
When guests recognize your meal as foods they eat every day, they will think of gluten free differently (without the stigma).
Strategy 3. Make references to your “gluten free” food with more popular labels, like paleo, vegan, vegetarian, whole 30, etc.
As us veteran gluten freers know, you can adapt any style of eating to gluten free. Using more popular labels helps to avoid the gluten free stigma. Also, individuals who eat according to specific dietary guidelines for need or by choice are often more open-minded about trying new ones.
For example, several gluten free bakeries sell vegan gluten free goods to market to a variety of eaters; this is also a better label than “gluten free dairy free” since the “free” terms often come with a stigma.
Strategy 4. Choose a delicious dedicated gluten free restaurant so your friends/family can choose an option to their liking.
In Seattle, Capitol Cider is a dedicated gluten free restaurant. They have an amazing brunch in addition to lunch and dinner. Options include fish and chips, burgers, vegetarian/vegan options, and more! I've suggested this location to friends before and they were completely surprised to learn (after the meal) that it was all gluten free!
Having a community that is open-minded about gluten free food helps to ease the feeling of isolation during food-related events. In addition, sharing our healthy gluten free diets with others has the benefit of introducing them to new healthy and whole foods. With these strategies, you can convince even the most stubborn skeptics to give gluten free food a try. After all, food is love, and we love our community ❤
What are your strategies for convincing others to love gluten free food?
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