Eating out with family and friends is a wonderful part of living a lifestyle that is both happy and healthy for everyone. Maintaining a diet that is gluten free can present challenges, but it’s possible to enjoy food in a restaurant as long as you know what to look for and what to ask.
New legislations and regulations ensure that restaurants and caterers are transparent with the information they provide, informing you of all the ingredients of your food and how it is prepared.
The key to eating out is to communicate with restaurant staff and explain your requirements:
- Most restaurants will have gluten free options on the menu. Some even have trained staff who are certified by the coeliac support groups.
- How food is prepared also affects whether or not intolerance occurs. Always ask about cross contamination of food products in the preparation stage as there should be dedicated pots and saucepans for gluten free cooking, also grills should cleaned before gluten free foods are made.
- It is a good idea to let your waiter know that you are gluten intolerant and the importance of avoiding anything that has wheat, barley, rye, oats or wheat flour in sauces, breadcrumbs, croutons, some stock cubes/powders and oil used to fry foods that contain gluten.
- If you are booking a table at a specific restaurant then calling beforehand and asking questions regarding catering for a person who is gluten intolerant will save time on the night. Plain vegetables, rice and meats with no sauce will always be a safe choice, as well as salads without dressing or croutons, if you are unsure of the validity of the gluten-free options provided.
- Smart phone apps can be very useful in finding restaurants that can meet your gluten-free requirements.
- If an ingredient such as stock cubes or other items are bought in, then they can check the ingredients list as they are covered by the same EU wide labeling laws as foods in the supermarket.
- All Caterers should be able to provide allergen information either orally or in a written plan. If not, then there must be a clear sign that shows you where this information can be found. The menu or ticket when you choose your food should always indicate and provide clear advice as to any allergens that may be apparent in the food.
- By law, restaurants do not have to offer a gluten free meal, however calling beforehand and discussing your requirements will help determine what you can eat from the menu. Some caterers will be happy to offer alternatives or in some cases cook something different for you. You may also need to explain why it is vital to avoid any contamination with foods that contain gluten.
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