Many people with celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerance/sensitivity avoid dining out, fearing it could trigger a severe allergic reaction. Even if a dish “appears” to be gluten-free, there’s a chance the chef or server may cross-contaminate it with traces of gluten. But you shouldn’t be forced to eat indoors 7 days a week just because you have celiac disease. With a little bit of planning and taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy restaurant meals with your friends and family.
Choose The Right Restaurant
It’s important to note that not all restaurants are suitable for people with celiac disease. All-you-can-eat buffets, for instance are one of the worst places you can eat, simply because there’s a high risk for cross-contamination. It only takes a single wheat-based bread crumb to create severe adverse reactions in people with celiac disease, so it’s best to avoid buffets just to be on the safe side.
Bakeries and sub shops are also considered poor choices for people with celiac disease. These places frequently use the same knives, cutlery and cutting boards to prepare all of their food, resulting in a high risk of cross-contamination. Unless these shops are focuses towards a “health-conscious” crowd, it’s probably best to avoid them.
It’s not a bad idea to call the restaurant before you leave to check and make sure they cater to people with celiac disease. The rise in this disease has spurred many restaurants and eateries to create special gluten-free menus. The establishment may not openly advertise these menus, but a quick phone call will reveal whether or not they have them. Ordering from a gluten-free menu will give you the peace of mind knowing that your dish is safe to consume.
Communicate With Your Server
When you first sit down to eat at a restaurant, you should immediately notify the server of your condition. Tell him or her that are have celiac disease, and that small amounts of gluten can trigger severe adverse reactions. An experienced server should be more than accommodating to your needs, making a special note on the order ticket and telling the chef to keep your dish away from sources of gluten.
You don’t want to come off as pushy or overbearing, but at the same time it’s crucial that your server is fully aware of the importance of keeping gluten away from your dish. Politely inform your server that gluten, even trace amounts from sources like cutting boards, can lead to a severe allergic reaction.