Most of us Coeliacs are normal, working people. It’s an invisible disease that to look at us, you probably wouldn’t know we suffered with it so in general, we tend to go about our daily lives of working and living as normal.
I recently attended a training course at a hotel and it got me thinking about some top tips for eating gluten free at business events. It can be hard to manage the diet in an unfamiliar surrounding with people you don’t know and even trickier to know what to do when the venue or organisers let you know ‘lunch and refreshments are provided’.
So, here’s a few top tips I thought of that might help anyone who often ends up in this scenario:
- Inform Both the Event Organisers and the Venue About Your Dietary Requirements
In my experience, if lunch is being provided at a business event, the organisers will ask to be notified of any dietary requirements so they can then tell the venue, however I prefer to notify both the event organisers and the venue separately.
This might sound like I’m a bit of a control freak but I like to check the message has been passed across correctly to the venue and that they can actually cater for me. It’s good to have a chat with them before the event about what they can provide for you to allow you to make your decision in advance as to whether you want to eat the food being put on.
2. Have a Big Breakfast at Home
Set yourself up for the day by having a big breakfast at home before you head to the event and by doing that, if the food does turn out to be a bit of a fail, there’s not so much of a panic to try and find yourself something at lunchtime as you won’t be starving hungry.
3. Always Pack Snacks
Some people like to bring their own lunch wherever they go and that is entirely fine but I sometimes feel a little isolated or excluded eating my own packed lunch while everyone tucks into the lunch provided, so I do prefer to try and take steps to enable me to join in with everyone else for the main meal where possible.
However, it is essential to always have snacks. There’s two reasons packing Coeliac safe snacks is essential and they’re that 1. if everything fails at the venue and they haven’t catered for you, you have got something you can eat and 2. although a lot of business event venues will cater for you at lunch, when it comes to providing morning and afternoon refreshments to everyone such as pastries, biscuits and cakes, you usually are forgotten about, so having something you can snack on at these times is always good.
4. Make Yourself Aware of Shops and Restaurants Near You
There’s nothing more annoying than being told you’ll be catered for and then getting to lunchtime and realising they haven’t provided anything suitable, so to prepare for these situations, always make yourself aware of the shops and restaurants near where you are in case you need to dash out and pick something up to eat.
You can use the Coeliac UK Venue Guide to find recommendations for suitable places to grab some food near where you are, which is super handy if you’re not familiar with the area and haven’t had chance to explore!
Hopefully these tips will help take some of the anxiety out of attending a business event with Coeliac Disease that I know I personally experience.
Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments!