March 18, 2019

How to be Gluten-Free in the Office by Gretchen Scalpi R.D.

How To Be Gluten-Free In The Office

Eating gluten-free is something that involves your entire life. You can’t just eat gluten-free at home. One of the most difficult places to keep to a gluten-free diet is the office. With all the candy, doughnuts and homemade treats people bring into the office sticking to your gluten-free diet will be a challenge. You also have to worry about cross contamination.

Start with talking to your office manager or human resources department. Communicate your needs clearly and offer reading materials about gluten-free diets to those who would like to learn more. Be prepared to explain your needs clearly.

Ask for some gluten-free counter, shelf and refrigerator space. If necessary, and allowed, you could create a gluten-free kitchen in your office with a mini fridge, microwave, toaster and a small table.

Bring your own meals, snacks and drinks a whenever possible and label everything clearly.  Make sure everything you bring is sealed completely to avoid cross contamination.  Bring your own condiments and never share.

If you tire of eating frozen or pre-packaged meals at the office set aside a portion of your dinner from the night before and package it for lunch.  Bring your own paper plates,  plastic utensils, paper napkins and zip lock baggies to keep in your office.  You may want to keep these in a locked drawer.

Eating out with co-workers or clients should be something you enjoy but it can be a problem if you need to eat gluten-free.  Do your own research and find restaurants that offer gluten-free options.  If they say yes then your research is not done.  You’ll need to find out if they use separate pots, pans, plates, cups, etc. for gluten-free guests.  Ask if their staff has been trained to accommodate gluten-free diners and if they use a separate preparation area for these types of dishes.

Many offices have the tradition of bringing in food for staff or to celebrate certain milestones like birthdays.  You won’t have to miss out if you bring in gluten-free goodies on those days and take the opportunity to share your how delicious gluten-free food can be with your colleagues.

If you are struggling to transition to a gluten-free lifestyle consult with a nutritionist who can help you create a plan that will work for you.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, author and Certified Wellcoach® who has celiac disease and knows the challenges of eating right with this condition. Gretchen is pleased to announce her new online program “Gluten-free Bootcamp’, designed to help those who need to follow the gluten-free diet. If you are new to the gluten-free lifestyle for medical or health reasons, you’ll want to attend Gretchen’s new free webinar “Five Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten-free” at How To Be Gluten-Free In The Office.

Going Guten Free by Gretchen Scalpi

Going Gluten Free…

In the past few years, there has been a huge increase in the variety and availability of gluten free food choices. Most grocery store chains now devote an entire aisle to “health foods” and consumers will find many gluten free choices there.

Lately, I’ve had clients without celiac disease or gluten intolerance ask whether they should go on a gluten free diet to improve their health. The emergence of many food products, along with some help from celebrities and TV talk shows have made the gluten free diet popular indeed.

So should you go gluten free?  The short answer to this question is “it depends on your why you are doing it.” For those diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, the gluten free diet is the only treatment for getting well.  For everyone else, it’s NOT likely to be the magic bullet to weight loss or better health.

For years I have helped clients with celiac disease or gluten intolerance learn how to navigate in food markets and restaurants so that their food choices are gluten free.  The learning curve for going gluten free is pretty steep. It can take weeks or months to learn how to get gluten completely out of your diet. Just learning what foods are gluten free and how to read ingredient lists on labels is a daunting task itself.

This past week I got to experience that learning curve first hand, when I received my own diagnosis of celiac disease.  To say I was stunned is an understatement. Having none of the classic signs of celiac disease, it took me several days just to process this reality.  The proof, of course, was in the blood work and a small intestinal biopsy.  Had I not seen those results for myself, I would not be convinced.  So here I am in the same shoes as my clients who have to think about every food they choose to eat.  Fortunately for me, I already know what to look for and how to prepare gluten free foods.  It’s just that I’ve never had to do this before.

Yesterday I spent the better part of the day planning for the items I will need for my meals.  I’m weeding out those items I will no longer use.  It’s unlikely that I will purchase many of the packaged gluten free products, as many are high in calories and low on fiber and nutrition.  I’ll stick to the whole foods and try my hand at baking some gluten free items from scratch, using gluten free whole grains.  I know I will miss eating many favorite foods (pizza and pasta for starters), but fortunately I am fond of many naturally gluten free foods that I already eat on a regular basis.

In the weeks to come, as I adjust my style of eating I’ll add some recipes and observations about living the gluten free lifestyle to my blog.  I’m sure that even with my training and knowledge of the subject, there’s still lots to learn.

Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Wellcoach®. Gretchen is the author of the books “The Quick Start Guide To Healthy Eating”, “The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Pre-Diabetes”, “The Everything Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd ed.”, “Pre-Diabetes Your Second Chance At Health” and the “Virtual Grocery Store Tour”.  Visit her website at http://www.nutritionxpert.com.