Dating 101 for the Gluten-Free Single

When you think of dating, what crosses your mind? Are you thinking about what you’ll wear and where you’ll go, or that it could be an extremely anxiety-producing activity? The basic question of where the date will take place is usually one of the first things established. Will it be a restaurant, a park, a movie? This information is especially important to those of us living gluten free, since if food is involved, this brings up a whole new aspect of the experience to consider.

There are a lot of factors involved in just a date. Have you ever thought about creating a guide for dating YOU?  The gluten intolerant you, that is.

Here are some tips, ideas and a checklist for sharing information with dates, friends or significant others to ease the stress of preparing for a date or an event. How do you date if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

For me, there are many questions that run through my mind. These questions can bring on a myriad of emotions and feelings, such as worry, anxiety and even fear.

Questions you may ask before going on a date:

  • If going to a restaurant, which one will it be?
  • Should I contact the restaurant in advance about GF options?
  • What am I going to order?
  • When are we going? Maybe I should eat something before I go out.
  • How am I going to let this other person know about my restrictions?
  • How much personal information am I comfortable sharing?

The list could go on and on.

And some may ask, “Why am I even putting myself through the extra stress of going out to eat under these circumstances?”

Staying gluten-free in restaurants can be challenging even when not adding on the extra potential stress of a date.

I’d like to encourage you to press pause.

Dating and socializing can create fear and anxiety, especially for someone dealing with a lifestyle issue such as the need for a gluten-free diet. But most of the worry and stress is without cause. Just take a moment to step back and breathe! Know that you are OK. Everything is going to work out just fine.

Those of us with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities must be gentle with ourselves. Our bodies have gone through enough stress and inflammation.  If you put the following tips into action, you should be able to alleviate most of your anxiety and enjoy yourself on a date, a night out with your significant other or friends.

Be up front

State your needs up front. That said, there is no need to go into extensive detail. You can simply say that you require a gluten-free diet for health/medical reasons. Depending on the situation and relationship, you may wish to share more or less personal information and this may change over time.

Plan ahead

If you are invited to someone’s home, offer to bring something. This is a nice gesture and also guarantees that you’ll have something you know you can eat.

Tell your host in advance that you have a dietary restriction you must comply with for medical reasons.  State right away that you don’t expect the menu to be catered to you, but that you want the host to be aware that you may be unable to eat certain foods and that you may want information about ingredients if that is easily provided.

If you are going to a hotel, restaurant or bar, call ahead and make sure there is something you can eat. Once you arrive, confirm that you’ve requested a GF meal and let the server know where you are sitting.  And one last time, when your meal is delivered make sure that it is in fact the GF food you requested.

Always carry a package of almonds, or a fruit/nut bar and a piece of fruit. It’s important to have emergency food on hand in case nothing else safe is available.

Do your homework

Know what you can eat.

Learn what restaurants offer gluten-free food.

There are some great applications for your smart phone to help locate options for gluten-free dining when you are on the go. One site offering loads of options is glutenfreepassport.com.

Offer plenty of suggestions for different places that cater to your needs.

Be creative

Experiment making your favorite foods and confidently invite someone over for dinner.

Change your focus from food and suggest other outings such as:

  • A walk or a hike
  • A visit to a park, zoo or museum
  • Attending a concert or going to a movie

Be prepared: The kiss list

You may need to ask the other person the following questions before going in for that first smooch.

  • What was the last thing you ate and how long ago was that?
  • When was the last time you brushed your teeth?
  • When was the last time you washed your hands and face?

I know this may seem a little ridiculous, but you can only imagine if eating something off a spoon that has been cross-contaminated has an effect, so can sharing a kiss (especially an intimate one)!

You’ll need to consider each situation/person distinctly and determine what seems safe to you.  You will have to tailor your approach to your specific needs and how your body reacts. A smooch could be cross contamination if you are highly sensitive.

Above all, stay positive!

I’ve found that being confident, creative and positive are traits that are attractive to others. No matter what your personal issues are, those you are dating or socializing with will admire you for your ability to take charge of your needs.

Although, there are some stipulations for dating if you are a person with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity, it is most definitely possible, especially if you are prepared. Dining out can still be enjoyable, especially since many restaurants are understanding and providing gluten-free menus.

Dating can be doable and enjoyable. You can tailor the date to what you feel comfortable with to ease any added stress or tension.

Happy dating!

Elyse Wagner is a certified nutritionist and licensed mental health counselor associate who motivates, educates and inspires individuals to live a nourished, whole foods, balanced life.
Read more at www.mykitchenshrink.com.