It can be hard to eat out when you are on a strict diet. It can easily become a stressful experience instead of an enjoyable one. And this can certainly be said for eating out on a gluten free diet. Fortunately a few steps can be taken to make one not only able to eat out and dine on gluten free meals, but also enjoy themselves without all of the stress and worry.
As being diagnosed with Celiac disease has become more common, and as others have chosen to maintain a gluten free diet for health reasons, restaurants around the world are now catering to this strong demand and strong need for patrons to be able to order gluten free foods whilst dining out. Gluten free restaurants are out there, and more widespread are gluten free menus being offered at many popular restaurants and restaurant chains.
If you like to dine out often and want to order gluten free meals that have followed the proper preparation and cooking procedures, then your best option is to find restaurants that have a decent gluten free menu, have a good reputation for gluten free dining and have received good feedback from gluten free diners.
Here are a few tips to help you eat out stress free and gluten free:
Use the resources available to you
- If you have access to the internet you will find a great amount of resources available to you. You can find many gluten free eating out tips and dining guides, as well as lists of gluten free restaurants and lists of restaurants with gluten free menus around the globe.
- This page here has a gathered together a bunch of different websites you can use as a resource when dining out gluten free. Included is a free database of over 12 000 gluten free friendly establishments, and guides on finding restaurants with gluten free menus as well as celiac friendly restaurants.
- Once you have chosen a restaurant, it is also a good idea to phone ahead, to make sure they still offer a gluten free menu and to ask if they cater to strict gluten-free diets.
Talk to the restaurant staff
- This is a very important step that should never be overlooked, even in restaurants which have a gluten free menu. You still need to talk to a staff member of the restaurant that knows what they are talking about, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and find someone who can help you. You may want to speak to the chef, the wait staff or restaurant manager to ensure your meal is gluten free. Ask for an ingredients list. Ask the restaurant staff if the ingredients, oils, sauces, cooking methods and equipment, as well as cooking area for your dish, is free from gluten. If the waiter or staff member is not helpful or clear, do not eat there.
- Many people state that they have a severe allergy to gluten to convey the seriousness of the issue. You don’t just want a gluten free dish, you need it. Telling them that you have a severe allergy to gluten get across how important it is for your dish to have gluten free ingredients, be cooked in a gluten free environment, with gluten free oils, and not cooked with or in an area that processes foods with gluten.
Ask about the cooking preparation
- When talking to the restaurant staff, don’t forget to ask about how and where your meal is prepared. You need to make sure any cooking methods used are free from gluten as well as making sure the equipment used as well as the cooking area is completely gluten free. For example, some restaurants use flour on meats before cooking them; and watch out for any oils, seasonings or sauces used in the cooking process that may contain gluten.
Beware of cross contamination
- When eating out gluten free, you not only have to double check that all the ingredients in your dish are gluten free, you also have to check that the area they are cooked in is gluten free. As well as checking the cooking area, equipment and any foods used with the cooking of the meal is gluten free, you also need to make sure your dish does not come into contact or is cooked in the same area as other meals which do contain gluten. One example is foods like fries, which can be cooked with hash browns, or breaded foods. These should be avoided by anyone with Celiac disease or is sensitive to gluten. Those on a gluten free diet by choice do not need to worry as much about cross contamination.
Watch out for toppings
- After going to a lot of effort to find yourself a gluten free dish, do not forget about the topping on the meal. Watch out for gravy with a roast dinner, croutons on a salad, salad dressings, and any sauces that may accompany your meal. Double check this with the wait staff or manager who has been helping you with your meal.
It can be a bit of a challenge to eat out on a gluten free diet, because of all the steps you must take before ordering a meal. I hope following these tips can make it a bit easier for you, a bit less stressful, and once you get into to the habit of it all, eating out should then become enjoyable for you once again.
The most important step is to find a restaurant and staff who understand your situation and are happy to cater to your needs. And the best thing about finding a good gluten free restaurant with knowledgeable and helpful staff is, you can then become a regular, and be happy and comfortable ordering from there often.
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