Ordering Gluten Free in a Restaurant
Have you ever been too afraid to go out to dinner because you didn’t want to have ANOTHER salad or were worried that there wouldn’t be anything else for you to eat? Ordering Gluten Free in a restaurant can be hard, confusing and downright frustrating!
I have been in this situation, being Gluten Intolerant and VERY sensitive at that! Dinning out doesn’t have to be off limits though! For us with Gluten sensitivities or Celiac’s Disease, it just takes a little extra planning and attention.
As published in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Gluten Free consumers should approach eating out at a restaurant in three stages: what they need to do prior to going to a restaurant, while they are at a restaurant and finally upon leaving that restaurant,” explains Rachel Begun, MS, RDN.
In a practical sense, (Before You Go) #1 CHECK THEM OUT:
Look them up on-line and view their menu ahead of time. Most menus will have a “GF” next to Gluten Free items, but check out their specific key or symbols. I do this all of the time!!! This way you can narrow down your options and see if they even have any offerings for you. If their menu is not listed on-line, CALL. ASK! Make sure that they know what you are asking.
These days almost every restaurant claims to have Gluten Free options. But how can you be sure that the next restaurant that you sit down at will truly have GF offerings on their menu that are safe to eat? http://www.celiactravel.com author said it well, “Money talks. And restaurants need money. So if they can get a little bit more by saying that ‘we’re a gluten free restaurant’ (or at least we offer gluten free foods) then you can understand why a ton of restaurants might jump on the gluten free bandwagon. But do they truly understand what it means to be Gluten Free or even know what Celiac’s is?”
(While You Are There) #2 BE CLEAR:
Communicate with the staff! To ensure that your meal is gluten free, it is important to speak up! Be clear and gracious, ask to speak to the chef or a manager. It took me a LONG time to be o.k. with doing this! My husband thought I was crazy, trying to pick dishes off a menu that I knew could be manipulated easily. Or seeing how sad I was when all I could order was another salad, instead of asking for their Gluten Free Menu. Most restaurants will have a separate or ‘allergy friendly’ menu, so ask! You’ll save yourself some heartache…. I learned the hard way BUT it is now my very first question when I sit down at a restaurant. It is also helpful to ask your server specific questions on how the food is prepared. Such as; Do you know if the Gluten Free pasta has been cooked in the same boiling water as the gluten-containing pasta?? Or, has the meat been cooked on the same grill where the buns are grilled?? One of my favorite questions to ask is, Are the French fries cooked in the same fryer as other gluten-containing foods?? Such as breaded chicken or fish. Ask if they have a dedicated GF fryer! Also remember that menu descriptions don’t always list every ingredient. Make sure to inquire about sauces, thickeners, broths and dressings as they often contain Gluten.
(When You Leave) #3 SPREAD THE GOOD WORD:
If you have had a good experience, the staff met your expectations and most importantly… you DIDN’T get SICK… then leave a good review. Use https://www.yelp.com or other review sources, shout them out on Social Media. By doing so they’ll be more likely to provide good service for future Gluten Free customers. You’ll help more that follow you and you can leave feeling well and full.
For Suggestions on Gluten Free Restaurants and their GF menus, visit me on Pinterest @amyGFgirl. https://www.pinterest.com/amyereid/pins/ Follow my “GF RESTAURANTS” BOARD and check out some of the options that are out there!
Another helpful tip in searching for a restaurant to visit, as stated in my previous blog, let technology help you! Download Gluten Free friendly APPS! Some of my favorites to use are “Find Me Gluten Free” https://www.findmeglutenfree.com/ and “Open Table” – Yes, they have a Gluten Free search!
So go for it… enjoy some new restaurants, see what’s out there. Feel confident and comfortable in your Gluten Free ordering skills. Be healthy and enjoy!