Have you recently started dating? Meeting new people and starting a new relationship can be exciting, but it can also be a stressful time, especially if you’ve been out of practice for awhile! And, if you are newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease, or are gluten-intolerant, this can add a whole new dimension of stress to your dating life. Though more people than ever are aware of gluten allergies, that doesn’t mean they understand the real impact it can have on your life. Check out 10 dating tips for gluten-free singles below.
Those who have Celiac Disease or are gluten intolerant need to be extremely careful about what to eat on a daily basis. Celiac disease has numerous different symptoms with each person having their own unique reaction to gluten. A few common symptoms are gastrointestinal distress, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, weight loss, and abdominal pain. Adults can also be anemic, and suffer from fatigue, bone, and joint pain. None of these symptoms are things you’d want to discuss on a first date!
The only recognized treatment for Celiac disease is a strict avoidance of all foods that contain gluten. This can make it very difficult to go to restaurants, where cross-contamination is a serious concern. While some restaurants are very up-to-speed on gluten-free dining and even provide a gluten-free menu, many others are not as well-equipped to cater to gluten-free clients. You can probably already imagine what could go wrong. Eat one bit of gluten at a restaurant and you might spend the rest of the evening on the toilet, or worse, vomit in the car on the way home.
So, what’s a gluten-free gal or guy supposed to do? Well, take a deep breath and keep reading. Here are some tips to help ensure that your dates go smoothly.
Top 10 Dating Tips for Gluten-Free Singles
- Know Yourself
- Practice Talking about being Gluten-Free
- Consider Adding Gluten-Free to Your Online Dating Profile
- Meet for a Drink on the First Date
- Eat a Light Meal or Snack Before You Go Out
- Know the Restaurants in your Area
- Bring Your Own Food
- Plan Activities that Don’t Revolve around Eating
- Kissing Rules
- Consider a Gluten-Free Dating Site
1. Know Yourself
The first step to successful dating is to know yourself, and your stress triggers. Stress can make your gastrointestinal symptoms worse, so the best way to be prepared for dating is to take care of yourself every day. Get exercise, drink plenty of water, sleep at least 8 hours per day, and stick to a gluten-free diet at all times. This may sound like very basic advice, but if you want to impress someone on a date, you need to be at your best!
2. Practice Talking about being Gluten-Free
You may be new to a Celiac diagnosis or maybe you’ve been gluten-free for awhile, but are new to dating. Either way, it can help to meet a friend for coffee or lunch and practice how you will introduce yourself and the fact that you are living a gluten-free life. The goal is to feel natural and confident – you are doing this to maintain your health and wellness, so don’t apologize for being gluten-free. Here are some suggestions for bringing up this topic at some point before or during the first date:
- I was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease. It was a challenge to adjust when I found out, but things are much better now that I’m on a gluten-free diet. I just need to be very careful about what I eat.
- I’ve been on a gluten-free diet for several months now and I really feel great. I have much more energy, and this has become an easy lifestyle for me to maintain.
- I gave up gluten years ago, and these days, with so many gluten-free products available, I don’t ever feel like I’m missing out! But I do need to be very careful about dining out at restaurants or eating what other people prepare.
- My daughter/son has Celiac disease, so I’ve decided that for their health I need to maintain a gluten-free life as well. I cook gluten-free meals for them every day and enjoy trying new recipes. I hope you’ll join us sometime.
After a quick introduction, you can move on to other topics, or see if your date has any questions. These days, it’s very possible that they will know someone else who is gluten-free, and this can be a great topic to follow up on.
3. Consider Adding Gluten-Free to Your Online Dating Profile
More people than ever are eating gluten-free, so consider being upfront and adding this information to your online profile.
Whether you are on Match.com, eHarmony, or one of the many other dating sites, there is a place to add information about yourself. Or, maybe use the suggestions above in tip #2 as a starting point in the self-description paragraph. However, don’t write too much, or go into a lot of detail in your online profile. It’s enough to just mention the fact. Then remind them on your first date, or during an email or text exchange before you set up a first date. Most people are not put off by this information, and if they are, well, you wouldn’t want to date them anyway!
4. Meet for a Drink on the First Date
If you are just getting back into dating, you may feel overwhelmed about spending 3-4 hours with someone new! Also, restaurants are always fraught with uncertainty for those who eat gluten-free. So, one suggestion is to meet for a drink on the first date. This could include coffee or tea mid-morning, or a cocktail or wine after work. Suggest meeting for just an hour to get to know each other a little better. A cup of coffee or a glass of wine does not require a full explanation about your gluten-free lifestyle. Also, you can just meet at the coffee shop or bar directly, without needing to coordinate transportation. Many dating sites recommend this approach for safety reasons, so you meet in person for the first time in public.
5. Eat a Light Meal or Snack Before You Go Out
Make sure you have something to eat before you go on a date. It’s not attractive to be ‘hangry’! Eat something light and nourishing. You don’t want to feel bloated or over-full while you are trying to make interesting conversation with someone new. Try to eat about 30 minutes before you leave the house on your date. Here are some suggestions:
- Cheese, gluten-free crackers and a glass of juice
- A bowl of gluten-free cereal with soy milk
- Handful of almonds and dried fruit
- Fresh fruit, yogurt, and gluten-free granola
- Half of a turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread
- Gluten-free protein bar
- Scrambled egg with a corn tortilla and salsa
6. Know the Restaurants in your Area
Do your research ahead of time. Know the restaurants near you that are ‘safe’ for gluten-free customers. This way, if your date asks where you want to go, you’ll quickly have some good choices in mind. Get recommendations from gluten-free friends, search for gluten-free restaurants in your city online, or try a website like www.glutenfreepassport.com that offers tons of local choices. There are also some great apps for your smart phone that can help you find gluten-free dining options when you are on the go.
Consider calling the restaurant ahead of time to confirm your gluten free choices with the manager. If that’s not possible, once you arrive at the restaurant, immediately ask for the gluten-free menu so the waiter or waitress is alerted to your dietary needs. This can all be done discreetly – there is no need to make a statement or a fuss about your meal choice. Just order and enjoy the rest of your evening with your date!
But, sometimes you may be faced with going to a restaurant that doesn’t have gluten-free options. This can happen when you meet a group or attend an occasion where the restaurant has already been selected. In this case, it’s best to be low-key and try to go with the flow. Make sure you have some ‘fallback’ meals in mind (and be thankful that you had a snack before going out). Suggestions include a fresh green salad without any croutons (using oil and vinegar as your dressing), a baked potato with cheese, steamed vegetables and rice, or a chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper that has been cooked in a clean pan.
7. Bring Your Own Food
Other dates may be more casual, like heading out for a barbecue. If this is the case, just offer to bring an entrée and side dish to share. There are many delicious potluck meal recipes available at http://www.faveglutenfreerecipes.com/Casserole-Recipes/Easy-Potluck-Ideas.
If you are going to a friend’s house, you can always coordinate with them in advance of the date, to make sure you have some gluten-free options to eat.
If you’re going on a picnic or hike, pack up some gluten-free crackers, cheese and fruit, and maybe some gluten-free cookies, and you’ll have plenty to nibble on, and share too!
Finally, always have gluten-free snacks in your purse, pocket or car. Good options include gluten-free cracker or pretzel packs, snack bars, packages of nuts, and dried fruit. You never know when you might need a pick-me-up while out on a date.
8. Plan Activities that Don’t Revolve around Eating
Restaurants are probably the first thing most people think of when going on a date. But there is no reason to limit yourself. Give your waistline a break. There are so many other options available, especially when the weather is good. Try one of these activities:
- Play a round of golf
- Hike some local trails
- Visit a museum, park, or zoo
- Attend a movie, lecture, or concert
- Take a bike ride
- Go star-gazing or bird watching
- Buy fresh fruit and veggies at a farmer’s market
Take the focus off of food. Both of you will enjoy trying other activities.
9. Kissing Rules
Hopefully you realize that kissing will require a few questions first. You may need to check with the other person before jumping into that first smooch. While this may seem a little ridiculous, you can be exposed to cross-contamination if your date has eaten gluten recently. If you are highly sensitive to gluten, have this conversation sooner rather than later.
Here are some common tips for ‘safe’ kissing:
- Ask your date to brush his or her teeth before kissing you. It’s also a good idea to floss.
- Ask your date to not consume anything containing gluten for a few hours before kissing.
- Ask your date to rinse with water before going in for a smooch, and check for crumbs!
While it may not be very sexy to ask someone to brush their teeth before a kiss, it’s much better than exposing yourself to gluten, and possibly getting sick.
10. Consider a Gluten-Free Dating Site
If you’d rather not go through the process of explaining your gluten-free lifestyle, consider checking out a gluten-free dating site like http://www.glutenfreesingles.com/.
GlutenfreeSingles markets themselves as a dating, networking, and informative website where you never have to feel alone, awkward, or a burden because you are gluten-free. They help people find gluten-free dating partners, friends, and activity groups, and hope to build a national community and common ground for those who are gluten-free.
Here are some of the services they offer:
- Gluten-free dating partners
- Gluten-free friendships
- Gluten-free evening socials
- A gluten-free online community
- News, recipes, updates, and advice on their social media
- Products and services related to living a gluten-free lifestyle
Throughout your dating experiences, try to keep a sense of humor. Dating is stressful enough without worrying that it will disrupt your gluten-free lifestyle. A super strict diet may not be romantic, but if you aren’t acting bothered by it, then your date will most likely follow your lead and enjoy the evening. Don’t use Celiac disease as an excuse to isolate yourself. There are so many options available to live an exciting life while eating gluten-free. The key is to plan ahead, be creative, maintain your sense of humor, and keep lots of gluten-free snacks on hand. Hopefully, you will soon find the love of your life, or at least have a lot of fun along the way.