Dear Urban Diplomat: Am I obligated to provide a gluten-free option at my kid’s birthday party?

Dear Urban Diplomat: Am I obligated to provide a gluten-free option at my kid’s birthday party?

Dear Urban Diplomat: Gluten-free birthday cake (Image: dixieroadrash)
 

Dear Urban Diplomat,
Last week we sent out e-vites for our son’s 10th birthday. The RSVPs started coming back, and in two cases, parents wrote “gluten-free preferred” in the space for allergies and dietary restrictions. What the heck is that? I’m not asking for preferences—I’m asking if their kid will keel over if he catches a whiff of chocolate icing or offend Allah by consuming non-Halal pepperoni. I’m disinclined to accommodate these requests, but my husband thinks we should, to avoid any social awkwardness. Am I out of line here, or are they?
—Let Them Eat Cake, Streetsville

Glutenphobia has joined lacto-ovo vegetarianism, kangatarianism and Edenism on the long list of abstemious dietary trends that make throwing a party as straightforward as hosting the G20 Summit. The key word is “preferred.” If there were a true celiac in the group—someone for whom the consumption of gluten results in violent diarrhea—the request would have been far more adamant. Still, are you prepared to upset the fragile ecosystem that is your son’s social circle on principle? Ordering a gluten-free pizza won’t kill you. A kid playing Twister with an explosive digestive system, on the other hand, can be a party killer, and fast.

Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at urbandiplomat@torontolife.com