Whether you are choosing a gluten free (GF) lifestyle or you have celiac disease and it is a necessity to live a gluten free lifestyle, eating out can be a challenge. I am gluten intolerant and my daughter Lauren, Go2GF Girl, has celiac disease. Together we have been living a gluten free lifestyle for 9 years. We have learned a few tricks over the years, usually from an accidental contamination of gluten, to eating out and staying gluten free.
- If at all possible, plan your restaurant outing in advance. If you know you will be eating out with friends or family, choose a restaurant that is GF friendly. You can find restaurants online and look at their menu, or you can call to inquire if they have a gluten free menu. Surprisingly, many restaurants have gluten free menus.
- When making inquiries of a restaurant, it is important to ask if the GF food is prepared separately from the gluten food. In the past we have experienced cross contamination while eating out, even though we ordered from a GF menu.
- Remember to check any sauces or seasonings that are added to the food. Recently, we discovered one of our favorite BBQ-flavored potato chips has barley in the BBQ seasoning for the chips. Mind you, this was not a certified GF potato chip, but a brand we have purchased in the past when it had no GF products in the chips. Ingredients change on products, and just because it was once GF, doesn’t mean it will always be GF. The same goes for food purchased at a restaurant. It is always good to recheck, even if you have been to the restaurant before.
- Non-GF people do not understand the effects gluten has on someone who has celiac or GF intolerance. Therefore, they may not take your allergy serious. If it appears that the server doesn’t understand your allergy, do not be hesitant to speak to someone who will.
- If you are out running errands or on a trip and you cannot plan a GF meal ahead of time, remember the advice above when you enter the restaurant. Ask the hostess before being seated if they offer GF options.
- Play it safe! If you are going to be out and about or traveling, pack your own food in case you do not have the option to eat at a GF restaurant.
- Remember to always be polite because, as I mentioned above, many people do not understand gluten allergies. If you are rude or irritated at their lack of knowledge, you may be negatively representing other GF people in that one person’s mind.
I hope these tips help you to enjoy a gluten free restaurant outing with your friends or family. Remember, it is always best to be kind and to enlighten.