Going Gluten-Free, Workplace Edition
- August 2014
- 3 min read
For many professional adults, gluten-free isn’t just something that needs tackling at home. For the 1 in 133 American adults with celiac disease, lunch meetings, and office happy hours, and even donuts and coffee on Friday mornings can be a headache. Sticking to the gluten-free diet in an office environment is critical even in the midst of peer pressure and workplace temptation. Here are a few tips on how to manage insistent coworkers, explain gluten-free in a professional setting and politely decline meals.
- Use HR as a Resource. After you are diagnosed or hired, explain your situation to your HR manager to avoid misinformation in the office. They can help alleviate any confusion that may arise if you cannot participate in food-related activities.
- Plan Ahead. Once the HR department is aware of your situation, they may be more inclined to make the proper accommodations for you by providing gluten-free alternatives for client lunch meetings or office holiday parties. You can further guarantee a safe and healthy environment by offering to help choose a gluten-free caterer, or coordinating with the restaurant on your own to double check your order.
- BYOF (bring your own food). By constantly having snacks, lunches, drinks, etc., on hand, you won’t have to take time to find safe options to eat, or grow hungry at your desk in an effort to avoid the morning pastries.
- Separate Storage and Food Prep. Commit to keeping your food items stored separately to avoid cross-contamination. Whether by identifying your own shelf in the pantry or clearly labeling your food items in the office refrigerator, this is a critical step for staying healthy. The same rule applies for anything used to prepare food including microwaves and toaster ovens. Try using toaster bags to avoid mixing food if your office can’t supply you with your own toaster.
- Educate Coworkers. If participating in a food-related meeting or event with clients or coworkers, take time to explain your situation, but keep it simple and concise. By talking, not complaining, about your diagnosis at the appropriate time, the office will become more attune to your situation and will realize how important it is to abide by the gluten-free lifestyle.
If you’re counseling adults who are struggling to manage their gluten-free lifestyle within the demands of their work place, equip your patient with these tips so they can go confidently in the direction of that upcoming client breakfast, armed with the right tools for success.