Updated: Jul 25
Is it the end of the world if I have Celiac Disease? Will I never be able to eat out again? Can I not live a normal life?
These are just a few of the dark clouds that loom over someone’s minds when they find out that they have Celiac Disease. To all those people, we hear you! You are not alone!
The good news is that the answer to all of the above question is a NO. It is not the end of the world, even though it may seem that way. Sometimes, a Celiac Disease diagnosis can also be a relief and burden at the same time. It’s a relief because you know exactly what is wrong and how to manage it. And, it’s a burden because you will have to make many lifestyle changes around it.
You can still enjoy a delicious meal at your favourite restaurant and enjoy dining out with friends. It just takes a little practice.
So, we have prepared a list of the top three things to ask whenever you are eating out. These tips will hopefully help you avoid the dreaded gut problems from accidental gluten exposure.
Do you have a Gluten-free menu?
The first question that should be on the tip of your tongue should be whether the restaurant has a gluten-free menu or not. You would be surprised at how many restaurants have a dedicated gluten-free menu. It’s just awesome when the wait-staff whip out a dedicated menu titled Gluten-Free, just for you. You can rest assured that whatever you are going to choose should be safe for you to eat. Having a dedicated menu also helps to avoid getting the cranky pants on because you can’t see all the other delicious meals that you think you will be missing out on.
Many establishments are getting better at catering to allergies. When they don’t have a dedicated menu, some put little dietary requirement symbols (GF gluten-free, V vegan, DF dairy-free) next to the meals on their main menu.
You can also call in a restaurant or go to their website before you visit. This will you will know about their options before you go.
As you already know, even a little gluten can be harmful if you have Celiac Disease. So, be careful from the start and ask for a gluten-free menu.
2. How does the kitchen handle cross-contamination?
Have you ever wondered when ordering your favourite gluten-free pizza about the knife cutter they use? Do they put it on a separate area to cut, rather than the same place all the other regular pizzas when they come out of the oven?
What about Thai food? The menu states you can have a gluten-free stir fry but do they only offer gluten-free ingredients to make a gluten-free meal? Or are they celiac friendly by using a dedicated pan and spatula that doesn’t have the black build-up on them from regular meals?
What about fish and chips? Does the kitchen have a gluten-free fryer? This one question alone is going to mean the difference between settling for a salad or ordering the grilled fish and deliciously hot, salted chips.
What about the café where you order a gluten-free grilled panini? Do they have a separate toaster, or have the training to know to change the parchment paper on the primary toaster?
Other protocols should include changing gloves or washing hands before touching the gluten-free food.
As painful as it may seem to ask these questions, and feel like your that ‘high-maintenance person’ never compromise on your health by ignoring these essential details.
3. Can I see the ingredients list?
This question is particularly crucial for sauces and spices. Have you ever asked the server at a takeaway store if the chicken salt for your chips is gluten-free and felt a little uncomfortable with their answer? Don’t be afraid to ask to see the ingredients to verify for yourself. Staff can change over more often than not, along with ingredients so sometimes the training of new staff and menu updates can fall by the wayside. Sometimes wait-staff and even chefs aren’t as skilled at spotting hidden gluten in ingredients like we are.
In some instances, the menu claims that the item is gluten-free, but you have a sick-sense that perhaps it is not. So, it’s better to face a little discomfort in asking for the ingredients list rather than facing a whole lot of discomfort later on.
With these simple tips, you can still enjoy dining out gluten-free, while being safe.
Stay awesome, stay happy....Jodes x
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. This article is for news and update purposes only and all copyright remains to the author.
Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. The GF Hub does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service.