Although coeliac disease is a life changing condition, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy food and eating out in restaurants. Many people believe that they need to start cooking everything from scratch and eating purely at home, but if you plan ahead this doesn’t have to be the case. Gluten free restaurant meals have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, and it’s now possible to enjoy anything from pasta to desserts on a gluten free diet. However, if you’re newly diagnosed and wondering where to start, keep reading for some tips on how to eat out on a gluten free diet.
BUILD UP YOUR KNOWLEDGE
First, it’s important to have a firm understanding of what you can and can’t eat. Whilst there are some foods that are naturally gluten free, other foods such as sauces, may differ depending on how they are made. Make sure you know what you can eat, and what you can’t, and that you explain this to your waiter when dining out. Even if you are eating what you believe is a purely gluten free meal, unless it specifically says so on the menu, it is worth passing on your dietary info to avoid gluten cross contamination.
LOOK AT MENUS ONLINE
If you have access to the internet, and who doesn’t these days with smart phones (?), it’s always worth checking to see if the restaurant you are interested in visiting has a menu online. Fast food chains, franchises, restaurants, and some takeaways will list their menus online, and this will give you the opportunity to browse through the dishes available. If the menu doesn’t look like it will be gluten free, you can simply look for somewhere else to dine out. Alternatively, you can phone the restaurant up for more information.
Before arriving at a restaurant it’s a good idea to phone ahead. Let them know that you are interested in making a booking, but that you are a coeliac. You should be able to gauge from the phone conversation whether they are aware of your dietary requirements, and they should also be able to tell you what gluten free meals they have available. By ringing ahead, you will also give the restaurant the opportunity to prepare for your visit.
ASK FOR HELP WITH THE MENU
Most big restaurants and franchises will have allergy information clearly listed on their menus, and you should be able to find some in your area which list dishes that are gluten free. However, in smaller restaurants you may want to ask the wait staff for help with the menu. It may also be worth asking to speak to the chef directly, and asking if he could prepare something gluten free for you. Luckily, some of the best desserts, such as meringue and crème brulee are usually gluten free, so you should have some options available to you.
Suffering from coeliac disease can be a bit disheartening at times, but there is no reason why you can no longer dine out.