The most important rules and principles to planning a gluten-free menu that is safe to eat for celiac guests. Follow celiac etiquette to prepare a safe menu that your guests will enjoy. Avoid risks and be an ideal host.
What celiac etiquette is
Celiac etiquette is the set of rules to plan a menu that is safe for guests on a gluten-free diet. Such rules include:
- The allowed foods and ingredients.
- How to ask about dietary restrictions.
- How to deal with your guests’ diets.
If you are hosting, respect celiac etiquette to properly plan a gluten-free menu that your guests will enjoy and avoid any risks.
If you are a guest, follow celiac etiquette to politely deal with your hosts and the other guests.
Celiac etiquette rules
1) Respect celiac dietary restrictions in your menu
A gluten-free diet is a dietary regimen for people allergic or intolerant to gluten. Such a diet forbids any foods that may contain gluten.
Meat in the gluten-free diet
In general, meat can be appropriate for a gluten-free diet. However, a celiac diet must avoid any meat that may contain gluten. Such as breaded meat or processed meat like hot dogs or sausage.
Fish and seafood are allowed in gluten-free diets
Celiac people can eat fish or seafood unless they are breaded. However, it is best to avoid canned or processed fish.
Celiac guests can eat most dairy products and cheese
A gluten-free diet allows milk, most dairy products, and most cheeses.
Eggs and honey are allowed in gluten-free diets
A celiac diet usually allows eggs and honey.
Celiac guests can eat most vegetables and fruit
A gluten-free diet allows all types of fresh vegetables and fruit. However, celiac people should apply extra care to processed food that may contain gluten.
Celiac guests must avoid grains
Condiments are ok for celiacs, but gravies and sauces are not ok
The gluten-free diet allows oil, vinegar, salt, herbs, and spices. Sauces, dressings, and gravies may contain gluten. Thus, they must be excluded.
Sweets and desserts only when gluten-free
Celiac guests on gluten-free diets must avoid sweets or desserts that may contain gluten. Such as pies, cakes, pancakes, and cookies.
Celiac guests must avoid alcohol
Gluten-free diets forbid most alcoholic drinks. Beer, wine, and spirits such as Vodka contain gluten.
It is possible to drink coffee or tea. Soft drinks without any gluten are allowed. Smoothies and milkshakes are allowed.
2) Etiquette for asking celiac guests about their diet
It is perfect etiquette to ask your guests about their dietary restrictions. Even more with gluten allergies or intolerances, which may pose a serious health risk.
In written formal invitations, it is sufficient to ask guests to please inform the hosts about any dietary requirements.
In informal invitations, a simple “do you follow any diet or have any dietary restriction?” works. Another option is to ask if guests avoid any food.
It is against etiquette to ask further questions. Such as why someone is on a gluten-free diet. Or why someone excludes or includes a certain food. A guest may be on a gluten-free diet due to a lifestyle choice or a health condition.
If you have a genuine curiosity, you may ask such questions. However, it is polite to justify your curiosity. In other words, state why you are curious about it. Be apologetic. Never judge or question the answers you get.
3) Celiac menu planning etiquette
Follow these key principles to deal with celiac guests’ gluten-free dietary restrictions.
Serve each food on its dedicated plate
Do not serve multiple foods on the same plate. Instead, try to separate them. Assign a plate to each food or ingredient. Serve condiments and sauces separated from food. Present each food with its own serving utensils.
This way you allow celiac guests on a gluten-free diet to pick the foods they can eat. Or to avoid the ones they cannot eat.
Include safe options
Many foods are allowed in almost every diet. Such as vegetables and fruit. Plan some safe dishes that almost any guest will be able to eat. As an example, only a few people say no to baked potatoes or salad.
Avoid risky foods
Many foods are not allowed in many diets. Pork meat. Alcohol. Beef. Crustaceans. For gluten-free diets, many processed foods are potentially risky. Anything that may contain flour or grains is risky.
If you are unsure about your guests’ diet, play safe. Avoid cooking these foods altogether. Or, at least, plan one or two dishes without them.
4) Celiac guest etiquette
Celiac guests on a gluten-free diet must follow etiquette too. Otherwise, they risk disrespecting or annoying their host and the other guests.
Do not expect the host to guess your diet
If you do not eat some foods, clearly state it with your host.
It is bad etiquette to expect a change in the menu based on your needs. Instead, you may ask if there may be some gluten-free options. Be apologetic in your requests. It is rude to do otherwise. As a guest, you do not want to sound entitled.
Be accommodating. Do not expect the host to accommodate your requests. However, any considerate host will make sure that the menu includes gluten-free options that are safe for you.
Politely refuse food that you do not eat
If the host serves food that you do not eat, simply avoid it. If the host or another guest explicitly offers such food to you, politely refuse it. It is enough to say “no, thank you”.
Provide additional detail only if someone asks you. It is good etiquette to be brief. Otherwise, do not annoy others with your dietary restrictions.
Do not impose your diet on the other guests
Never expect others to adjust to your diet. Do not expect your hosts to change their menu to accommodate your needs. Similarly, at a restaurant, do not expect the other guests to change their food order.
Celiac etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst celiac etiquette mistakes.
- 10/10. Not accommodating gluten-free dietary restrictions.
- 10/10. Using the same kitchenware with multiple foods.
- 6/10. Asking personal dietary questions.
- 4/10. Imposing your diet on others.
- 4/10. Sharing unsolicited details about your diet.
- Treatment – Coeliac disease: nhs.uk