Going On a Gluten-Free Date

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How much impact does having celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) have on your dating life?

According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Irvine Medical Center, it can impact a lot.

Of the survey participants — all of whom had biopsy-diagnosed celiac disease — almost half said they hesitate to go on dates because of their condition. 39% cited that having to explain their gluten-free requirements to waitstaff while on a date created discomfort. Another 39% expressed a hesitancy around kissing a date who was not gluten-free. The study also found that women were more hesitant than men regarding kissing with the possibility of getting “glutened.”

How safe is kissing someone who consumes gluten when you’re adhering to a strict gluten-free diet for medical reasons? See our article 7 Things to Know About Gluten-Free Kissing.

One way to alleviate the stress around avoiding exposure to gluten while on a date – particularly a first date – is to spend time together without the complexities of navigating food. We’ve compiled some fun date ideas that don’t involve food.

Nature walks, day hikes, or geocaching – Getting outside, weather permitting, for a walk or light hike is a great way to get to know someone without the pressure of choosing food that’s safe to eat. Geocaching is a great way to explore an area, turning a nature walk into a treasure hunt. Bring your own water bottle and snacks in a day pack if you need a quick bite to eat while exploring.

Concerts and shows — Attending a concert, show, or other performance doesn’t have to involve food. Since concession stands can be places where cross-contact with gluten is inevitable, opt for events where you can bring your own refreshments, such as an outdoor concert where you can bring a totally gluten-free picnic spread. If bringing your own food is not an option, eat and drink before you go.

Board game night – If you’re hosting a board game night, you can be fully in charge of serving gluten-free snacks, if you decide to include them, so there’s no risk there. If your date is hosting, let them know in advance you’re bringing your own snacks. Otherwise, enjoy a game of Monopoly, Scrabble, or Cards Against Humanity with a gluten-free drink.

Mini golf or frisbee golf – Satisfy your competitive streak and sporty side with a serious game of mini golf, or a get a little more active with a few rounds of frisbee golf.

Visit a museum, gallery, aquarium, or zoo – Add a little culture to your date with a visit to a local museum or art gallery or explore sea life or wildlife for some fun without food.

Painting or pottery class – Get crafty and creative by taking an art class together. No food required.


Here are a few ideas from our follower @sassieceliac on Instagram:

If food is going to be a part of a date, offer to host the dinner and take charge of the menu and food preparation for total peace of mind. Consider having “The Gluten-Free Talk” from the onset and suggest that you prepare your own food so you can safely dine together.

First dates can be stressful enough without trying to explain your gluten-free needs to your date and restaurant staff.  Look for ways to get to know each other better and enjoy each other’s company with activities that center around fun more than food.


Additional Reading:

Gluten-Free Safe Entertaining

Gluten-Free Eating On-The-Go

7 Salty, Savory, Sweet Gluten-Free Appetizers