Is your calendar filled with what seems to be wall-to-wall food-centric meetings; having “coffee”, donuts with your boss and team members, and lunch meetings? Sometimes those days in the corporate world can surround you with temptations — at the worst — or just be constant reminders of what you can’t have – which is frustrating at best.

Navigating the business world is hard enough, toss in your food restrictions and you may have 40 hours-a-week of awkward moments.  So unless you’re the CEO of the company and can pick the food at your next function, we need to brainstorm on options that will keep you lunching with your friends, but staying in the driver’s seat of your gluten-free lifestyle.

I have some ideas that could help people right away, but I am curious about what you folks have experienced.  Give us some unique and successful ways to make it all work out.

Holiday parties:

  • It could be as big as a catered banquet-style event or as small as your team going out for a nice meal.  If it is the big party and hundreds or thousands of employees will be there, it is probably worth contacting the hotel and/or caterer about the evening’s meal options.  The chef should be able to assist you with any questions and maybe work out a plan of what you will eat and how they can find you at the party.  If you don’t know who is catering the event, one place to check within your company, is the boss’s assistant.  They are the best friend you could ever have at any job.  They can connect you with the event planner for the company.
  • For a smaller meal with your team, talk to your manager about where the team is thinking of going.  Consider throwing out a few options as well.  If they still want to go to that “Italian place on the corner” that has no gluten-free options, then you probably should discuss privately with your boss your situation.  I know many of you are very private about your diagnosis, but it might be time to come clean and at least tell your boss.

Work lunch:

  • Again this is one where I recommend you take the reins.  If you and a co-worker are discussing a possible lunch meeting, why don’t you offer to make the reservations?  Another option would be to have three choices that have gluten-free menus and have your co-worker choose from those.  A previous post of mine included great links for finding gluten-free restaurants.
  • If the lunch is something your boss is scheduling, check in with your boss’s assistant and see if they can help you or go directly to your boss with your request.

Date night:

What happens if you are on a first date with someone and the restaurant they take you to, has no gluten-free options.  I personally say come clean and change plans. 

What do others do?  I think these are all tough situations to be in, especially if you are private about your celiac disease.  My daughter and our family have been quite open about her diagnosis (hmmm tough to tell right?) so my answers to these questions I think are more liberal than what some people would say.  So all you hard working professionals – help each other out.  How do you deal with the gluten-free diet when you’re away from home and on the job, work trip or on a date?  Send me your feedback and I will do a follow-up soon.

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