Gluten-Free Tips for Eating Out
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or have a gluten allergy, you need to avoid foods that contain gluten, and possibly wheat and related grains, even if you’re going out to eat. When you’re going gluten-free, it can be difficult to find restaurants to accommodate your needs. Here are some tips on how to eat out while keeping a gluten-free diet.
Check The Web
Most restaurants have a website and an online presence at this point, so many of those restaurants have their menus listed online. Even folks without dietary restrictions might check out online menus with a purpose of scouting their dinner ahead of time.
If you know where you’ll be dining, visit the website and see if they have a menu available. Some restaurants may even have a gluten-free menu posted. Restaurants frequently post nutrition facts or a list of menu ingredients as well. You could go as far as contacting the restaurant via email, social media or telephone to see if they have gluten-free options.
After you’re seated, do not be afraid to launch a few inquiries in the direction of your server. You may want to ask whether the French fries are fried in the same oil as the breaded items, or if the grilled chicken, pork or fish is dusted in flour or batter. Many meals may include soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, so be sure to check if there is wheat in the broth, au jus or sauce. Ask about breading in the menu items you are considering, and be sure to ask which salad dressings contain gluten.
You know your diet and what works best for you, so it may be best to speak directly to the chef or restaurant manager. Even after you’ve received your meal, you should still take steps to ensure that it is free of gluten. Often, a member of the kitchen staff will deliver the gluten-free dishes personally, as a reassurance.
Don’t be afraid to make requests. Ask for a salad without croutons, or ask for gluten-free pasta that was not cooked in water or drained in a strainer that previously held gluten pasta. You can also request that your meat is grilled where bread and buns have not been toasted, and that the cooking utensils used to prepare your dish were not used to prepare any food that contains gluten to make absolutely sure that you don’t get “glutened.”
Ask to see the chef or manager if your server doesn’t seem to be knowledgeable.
Bring an Allergen Card
Fill out an “allergen card” — a card you can give to the chef or restaurant manager of the establishment that will let them know you have special requirements. Lisa Cooks Allergen Free, among other possible resources, has an allergen card available that you can print, fill out and present to your server the next time you dine out. It includes items to leave off your dish, citing your allergy or celiac disease, as well as tips for preparation that could avoid trouble.
Bring Your Own Sauces, Breads and Crackers
As long as you call ahead and inform the restaurant of your dietary needs, they should have no problem with you bringing your own sauces, breads or crackers. This way, you have something to snack on while everyone else is eating the bread or rolls provided by the restaurant.
When you’re dining out but need to stay gluten-free, just remember: don’t be afraid. Do your homework on the menu, ask as many questions as needed and make whatever requests you see fit. If you call ahead and provide an allergen card, your dining experience should be seamless.
About the author:
Chris Bekermeier is Vice President, Sales & Marketing, for PacMoore (http://www.pacmoore.com/), headquartered in Hammond, Indiana. PacMoore is one of the leading certified gluten free food manufacturers focused on processing dry ingredients for the food and pharmaceutical industries. Its capabilities include blending, spray drying, re-packaging, sifting, and consumer packaging.