Surviving a potluck (gluten free)

Surviving-potluckRecently, Meyer and I were invited to a potluck party. Potlucks can be a nightmare for a celiac.  I’ve actually always thought of parties where everyone brings a dish a bad idea. Maybe one would say I’m a control freak or that I’m picky but I just don’t trust most anyone to feed me in the manner that I want to eat. I think that’s pretty reasonable.  I’ve never been big on processed food so chowing down on other’s recipes when I don’t know the ingredients is very tough.  I know other people have these issues too. Some go so far and not eating at friends’ houses. My issue with potlucks is that you as a guest usually don’t know all the party goers. So you are meeting people for the first time and hoping that their cooking (or idea of cooking) resonates with your own values.  I’ve found this is rare.

I can remember horror I had at a graduate school party years ago.  College kids or even graduate students with minimal skills of cooking should not be allowed to throw a pot luck.  I can’t tell you how many people brought green bean casserole with crunchy onions.  Seriously? Isn’t that something that’s only allowed out on Thanksgiving?  (FYI I’ve never been a fan). I ate the dish I brought (my family’s homemade hamburger helper if I recall) and one dessert a friend made-that was it.

I’m even more careful now that I am gluten free.  I don’t like to take many risks and dining in fine restaurants the best use of my eating out lottery.  This particular potluck was hosted by a dear friend who is very aware of my dietary needs and overly cautious.  He graciously sent over the chili recipe he was going to make so I could verify that it was gluten free. I know there’s always the chance of cross contamination but I do also know that having overly careful friends is about as good as it gets.  Our dear friend also advised the other guests of my dietary needs and any other food allergies.  While some guests did carefully select their dish others didn’t seem that informed. I don’t blame that on the host.  As with all parties, you need to make the best decision of what to eat for yourself. Be your own best advocate as no one else is as invested in taking care of you! While I abstained from the 7 layer taco dip that night, I did try a bit of the pear salad after asking about it’s ingredients.  Dessert was saved by the giant bowl of leftover Halloween candy. At least I’m confidant I can eat Peanut M&Ms! Overall the party was a success and I navigated through a potluck once again.


  • Be your own best advocate!
  • Always notify the host of your dietary needs.
  • Ask questions about other’s dishes to the host and to the guest that prepared it. Don’t too harsh but make your own decision if you feel comfortable eating food.
  • Bring a dish that you can eat and share.
  • Indulge lightly into other guest’s dishes. Gluten is going to give you a punch from one bite or a whole bowl but maybe it’s not the time to pig out on questionable food.
  • Think about bringing a dessert as well if you want to make sure there’s dessert for you!

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