Eating Gluten-Free in Shared Spaces

Whether you are a coeliac eating a meal with others or you are preparing a meal for a person with coeliac disease, there are some important things you should keep in mind.

The main thing to remember is that preparing and cooking gluten free meals is the same as it would be with gluten-containing recipes – you just have to be careful to avoid gluten, and watch out for cross-contamination. Mealtimes needn’t be a hassle, nor do you have to be Jamie Oliver, once you learn the basics!

Remember the following tips and you’ll have no gluten stress in your shared accommodation or meal times…

Be prepared

If you don’t have gluten free food to snack on and you’re sharing a house with non-coeliacs who have lots of goodies, then you may be tempted to settle for something unsuitable – which will undo all your hard work. To avoid this, make sure you always have something at the ready!

Read more about sticking to your gluten free diet for more info.

To help avoid cross contamination, we recommend you have your own cooking equipment. We suggest the following as essentials…

  • Mixing spoon
  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Colander
  • Baking tray
  • Oven dish
  • A set of tea towels
  • Kitchen roll
  • Dishcloth/sponge
  • Cling film
  • Tin foil
  • Sandwich bags
  • Cutlery
  • Plates and bowls (more than one of each)
  • A sharp knife
  • Scissors
  • Storage containers
  • Food labels and pens

If you absolutely can’t have your own baking tray for the oven, then securely cover any (clean!) shared ones with a fresh piece of tin foil each time before placing your food on to cook.

We also suggest getting yourself a separate toaster and clearly labelling it to make sure that nobody else uses it to stop any gluten crumbs making their way into it. If you can’t do this, then toaster bags are a great option.

Keep food separate

This sounds like an obvious one, but it’s a good idea to have a designated gluten free shelf in the fridge. Try to designate the top shelf as the gluten-free shelf to avoid anything dripping or dropping onto your gluten-free food. Always keep everything well covered with cling film or resealable sandwich bags/storage containers to avoid any chance of cross-contamination. You can label your food too – this will help you and the people you live with a great deal and is worth the effort!

Ask for help, but don’t be stubborn!

It’s totally reasonable to expect your family / housemates to be considerate, but if all else fails (and sometimes it will), you must put ‘gluten-free’ first and do it yourself. If you’re at all worried about being labelled ‘OCD’ or ‘clean freak,’ just remember that if anything, your friends and family will thank you for keeping the kitchen clean!

Keep the kitchen clean

Here’s a quick ‘kitchen clean’ checklist:

  • Always wipe down countertops before and after food preparation
  • Keep your cupboard and fridge shelf clean and crumb-free
  • Thoroughly scrub all kitchen utensils after use and store them separately

We hope that using these quick tips you can easily avoid cross contamination without excluding yourself from your family and friends in the process. It may be a good idea to ask people you live with to read this so that they can appreciate and respect what it takes to stay safe and gluten-free.