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Living Gluten Free

Eating Gluten-Free in Social Situations: Lunch

Food is a major part of our everyday lives. When you have Celiac Disease, eating away from home can be a challenge. As you've progressed with your understanding of Celiac Disease, you've most likely discovered a wide variety of interesting and tasty gluten-free foods. Preparation and anticipation are critical to maintaining your gluten-free diet in challenging situations away from home. The first situation we'll discuss is eating at work or school.

Many of us work in environments where fast food or take-out is readily available during work hours. Living with Celiac Disease requires a shift in your daily habits and thinking. My first suggestion is to keep some non-perishable snacks at your desk and bring a brown bag lunch whenever possible. This will be easier if you have a microwave and mini-fridge available at work. If you don't have access to a mini-fridge, invest in an insulated lunch bag and some freezer packs. The easiest and fastest option is to bring microwavable frozen dinners, which are made by Amy's and Glutino. These dinners are often high in sodium, but they are certainly convenient and easy to grab. I suggest keeping a stock of frozen dinners in your home freezer for days when you don't have time to prepare a brown bag lunch.

The second option is to use your dinner leftovers to create your own frozen meals. I purchase inexpensive divided microwave-safe containers. I fill the larger portion with frozen vegetables, and the smaller side with a leftover main dish from the previous night's dinner. I generally cook in larger quantities, and immediately after dinner, portion the remainder into make-ahead dinners. Gluten-free pasta freezes and reheats beautifully. The frozen vegetables and frozen entrée will reheat in approximately 5-10 minutes in the microwave, and your lunch will be the envy of the office!

Other lunch suggestions include sandwiches on gluten-free bread, or typical sandwich fillings without the bread (tuna, egg salad, chicken salad). If you're bringing a sandwich, I highly suggest keeping the filling separate from the bread until it's time to eat. Gluten-free bread gets soggy very quickly. Another way to combat this is to toast your bread at home before assembling the sandwich. A gluten-free sandwich and a salad or piece of fruit would be a satisfying lunch that's easy to eat at the desk.

You can easily manage hunger and temptation at work or school by planning your meals in advance and providing yourself leftovers for lunch.