It may seem like I eat out a lot but it’s often with trepidation. I’ve been burnt a few times before by trusting people too easily.
While the rise of gluten free options may make dining out seem simple, it’s common nature means many venues are offering it with little understanding and lots of complacency surrounding safe food prep. That said, here are my top tips to stay safe while dining out.
Research – check if they have a separate gluten free menu – this is the best sign they understand (or gluten intolerant) and need 100% gf foods – if they cannot guarantee – don’t risk it.
Choose restaurants that are certified by the Coeliac Society of your country (where possible) - this means they are aware of #coeliac needs, however, still ask all the questions.
Picking the gluten free item on the menu is NOT ENOUGH – always specify that you have coeliac disease and require 100% gluten free. Inform wait staff of what this means and ask if they can cater for those will coeliac disease and be sure they understand how to prevent cross contamination. This means asking them to change gloves, change utensils, avoid shared spreads. If they aren't willing to do this, take your business elsewhere - it's not worth the risk.
Avoid sharing - Although sharing foods is a fun part of dining out, it isn’t a safe one. Choose your own dish and avoid shared dips and starters where contamination may easily occur. If bread has touched other food, the rest of the dish is as good as poisoned.
Speak up - If you’ve specified your needs, there will be no problem with returning a dish which comes out and doesn’t meet your dietary needs. Don’t suffer through silence. Avoid fried foods and most often they’re cooked in the same oil as crumbed items. If you aren’t sure, leave.
Be prepared to miss out - If you’re eating out and can’t undergo this vetting procedure, eat beforehand. It may suck missing out on dining experiences but anyone who’s experienced a real ‘glutening’ will know it’s a small price to pay to feel well.