How to Survive a Barbecue on a Special Diet

It’s summer time and that means parties, barbecues, cook-outs, etc. I love them and they are awesome, but they can be tricky to navigate if you have restrictions, allergies, intolerances, and so on. Especially if you don’t know the host(s) or don’t know them very well.

Rule 1. Never assume there will be things that you can eat. This is the quickest way to guarantee that there will be nothing you can eat. I went to a wedding and thought “I’m sure there will be something I can eat”. Nope. Pizza, tomatoes topped with mozzarella, and a salad covered in croutons and a milk-based dressing. So I learned an important lesson and now I attend formal functions with beef jerky in my purse. Yep. Classy.

Rule 2. Always offer to bring something. This makes you look like a nice person and it ensures that you will not starve. I like to bring sides that can stand alone as a meal if there are no other good options. A few of my go-to recipes:

Rainbow Kale Slaw from Go Dairy Free

Southwestern Quinoa Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen (any variety of quinoa salad is usually a good choice. Try adding mango – delicious!)

Baked Sweet Potato Falafels from 101 Cookbooks

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Bites from The Balanced Platter

Rule 3. If you know the host, communicate with them! People don’t like to kill other people with food. While it can be an awkward conversation, it beats being sick for 3 days. A simple “hey, I am allergic to this food – will there be safe options for me?” is good. Sometimes it’s nice to present options – “hey I am allergic to xyz, could you make me a burger without the bun? or without cheese?” etc. especially since lots of people don’t know that EVERYTHING has gluten in it. People worry about feeding me all the time, but as long as there is meat and vegetables, I do just fine.

Rule 4. Don’t assume things aren’t covered in cheese. Or a wheat-based sauce. Or eggs. ASK. Don’t be unpleasantly surprised.

Rule 5. Eat before you go. It’s often best not to arrive hungry and be tempted by who-knows-what. Chocolate cake. Feta cheese. Beer.

Rule 6. Have a drink in your hand. Water is great. I find that I am less tempted to “just try” that delicious looking cake if I have something else to do. Please exercise caution and always bring a sleeping bag. People usually don’t mind if you camp in their lawn instead of driving home. Maybe those are just my friends.

Rule 7. If you do get exposed to something unintentionally (or if you decide that cake/pie/beer really is your best option and eat it on purpose), be gentle to yourself. Drink more water, get more rest, go back to eating what you know your body tolerates well.

What are your tips for surviving barbecues? Do you have any go-to recipes?



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