Author: SF Beach Street Grill
For people with celiac disease, restaurant dining can be very difficult. In fact, in a study by Columbia University, 86% of celiac patients said the difficulties of dining out was a negative experience for them. In another study, nearly half the celiac respondents said they sometimes avoided eating in restaurants.
For newly diagnosed celiac sufferers, restaurants can be especially difficult, particularly for those who are shy about asking questions. Over time, though, dining out can become much easier. Be sure to dine out with companions who are patient and supportive. Learn all you can about food preparation and terminology, so you’ll be better equipped to recognize harmful menu items.
Finally, whether you are newly diagnosed or have lots of experience, follow the tips below. Be careful, and bon appetit!
1. Don’t start out hungry. This is good advice for anyone going out to eat, but it’s especially important for celiacs. The hungrier you are, the more likely you are to make a mistake. If you must go to a restaurant hungry, bring a small snack like gluten free crackers to munch on while everyone else is filling up on the rolls.
2. Be familiar with the gluten-free diet. This means not only knowing which grains to avoid but also where they’re likely to be hidden and the need to protect yourself against cross-contamination.
3. Try looking at a celiac-friendly restaurant directory. If you’re not choosing a restaurant from a directory, call the restaurant in advance to make sure there are menu items you can eat. Look for the menu online, or have it faxed to you.
Note: If you’ll be dining at an Italian restaurant, call to ask whether they’d mind if you brought your own pasta. Many restaurants will happily prepare your gluten-free pasta and top it with their own fresh sauce.
4. Tell your server that you have food allergies and you need to know how the food is prepared. If your server appears not to understand, ask to speak with the restaurant manager or the chef. (Celiac disease is not technically an allergy, but if you want the restaurant staff to understand your problem, it will be easier if you tell them you have allergies.)
Consider bringing along a dining card to explain what you can and cannot eat. Cards are available in a wide variety of languages.
5. Select a few dishes on the menu that look as if they might be safe, and ask questions.
Look for simple dishes without coatings or sauces, or with sauces that can be left off.
Always ask your server to tell the chef that you can’t have wheat, and always ask questions. Don’t assume that anything is gluten-free. Even if a menu item looks safe, you might not realize that the chef’s secret recipe includes gluten. Here are some additional questions to ask:
- Are there croutons on the salad? Can you please leave them off?
- What’s in the dressing?
- Has the food been marinated in any sauce?
- Is the sauce made in-house? What’s in it?
- Is the oil used for any deep fried items also used to make the other breaded products?
- Are the mashed potatoes from a mix, or from real potatoes?
6. Remind your server and the chef that your food needs to be prepared on a clean cooking surface, with clean utensils. Many restaurant staffers will not realize the risks of cross-contamination unless these are pointed out to them.
About the Author
SF Beach Street Grill is Known for its warm hospitality and all-day breakfast,this vibrant diner is a local favorite! Serving organic and gluten free menu selections. Homemade blueberry pancakes,gravy sauced biscuits, and divine chocolate fudge are but a few of the delicious choices. http://sfbeachstreetgrill.com/