Follow these tips to enjoy a gluten-free summer cookout.

Grilled Beef Kabobs with Chimichurri Sauce

Summer barbeques, particularly ones that are pot-luck style, can be challenging for families with children who are living with celiac disease.

Today the number of people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance has surged to nearly 1 in every 133 people -- four times the number of people suffering from it just five decades ago. Some choose to avoid gluten, which is found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, and oats, but for others, it's a medical must.

"The long-term effect of anyone with celiac disease being exposed to gluten is damage to the intestine. Some kids experience symptoms immediately," says Mary Kay Sharrett, R.D. from the Celiac Disease Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio."Even trace amounts of gluten can cause damage and painful inflammation in a patient's digestive tract."

But just because you or your child has to avoid gluten doesn't mean you have to miss out on backyard barbecues this summer.

Make sure that cross-contamination has been avoided and that you read labels carefully. "Especially if gathering with a group who may not understand the particulars of a gluten-free diet," says Sharrett.

Take a gluten-free dish or two with you, such as a bowl of mixed berries, baked beans, corn on the cob, or a gluten-free potato salad, so that you know your child will have something to eat. Sharrett suggests bringing a gluten-free bun or using a large piece of lettuce as a substitute for a hamburger bun.

Whether you're hosting or another family is, take these precautions to ensure a safe and satisfying celiac-friendly meal:

-Closely watch the condiments. Read the labels, and if squeeze bottles aren't being used, try to be first in line to avoid contamination from knives that have touched bread containing gluten. If you're a guest, consider bringing your own condiments.

-Make sure only plain meat and vegetables end up on the grill. Seasoning or soup mixes containing wheat may have been added. Even crumbs from food containing gluten can be harmful for a child with celiac disease if they mix with a gluten-free dish. And meat substitutes, like veggie burgers, often look like the real thing, but contain wheat.

-Check for marinades or sauces. Marinades or sauces may contain wheat, especially if they contain soy sauce. Some soy sauce can be purchased gluten-free. Watch out for marinades made with beer.

-Wrap your food in foil while grilling. Wrapping your meat or corn on the cob in foil is crucial if you don't know if the grill has been cleaned, especially after marinades containing gluten have been used or buns have been warmed on the grill.

-Make sure the spatula only touches plain meats or vegetables. Cross-contamination with buns or marinades could be dangerous.

Courtesy of Nationwide Children's Hospital

Originally featured on Nationwide Children's ( and reprinted with permission.

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