Eating gluten free is a challenge any time, but if you eat lunch at work, it can be a real challenge to ensure that you avoid the pitfalls related to a gluten free diet. How do you remain gluten free in the workplace? Here are a few tips to help survive your everyday lunch break, lunch meetings and office happy hours.
Enlist the help of your HR department
Explain your situation to HR to avoid any mishaps in your workplace, assist with concessions of gluten free alternatives for company sponsored activities such as business meetings or in company sponsored cafeterias. They can also help in situations where you may not be able to participate in food related events or make exceptions to the “no food storage at your desk” rule, if one exists to help you avoid the possibility of cross-contamination.
In cases where you will be eating out, provide a list of gluten free restaurants or those that offer gluten free menu options. There are a number of websites and apps to assist you with finding gluten free restaurants near you. We like Findmeglutenfree.com. Here are some helpful tips for dining out gluten free.
Educate your co-workers
Let your co-workers know that you have allergies – this may not be 100% accurate, but it will convey the importance of their help. If you share a refrigerator with co-workers, see if it’s possible to get your own shelf.
Bring your own containers and utensils
Bring and label your containers and utensils to avoid cross-contamination. Also, avoid using toaster and toaster ovens that are used by all of your co-workers. If you need to use these appliances, you can get toaster bags to help avoid cross-contamination. Toastabags make reusable ones and you can get them on Amazon.
Bring your own food
Bring lunch, snacks and drinks that are safe options (this will also help you avoid those pastries that haunt the break room every morning). There are several gluten free snacks that you can stock up on and keep at your desk. Nuts, Mary’s Gone cookies, crackers and pretzels, French Meadow Bakery Gluten-Free Fudge Brownies or Home Free Cookies are all good options. Check out your local supermarket or Whole Foods for more great options. For tips on shopping gluten free, check out this article.
You can even bring your own gluten free cakes and other goodies to share with co-workers when there are birthday parties or other food related activities happening in your workplace.
There are a ton of great gluten free recipes available online (we even have some here) -cooking and bringing your own safe options is the best way to avoid gluten in your diet.
With some practice, maintaining a gluten free lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard at work. Keep open communication with those around you about your condition and always be prepared. Soon you’ll become a pro!