Dining out with family and friends is a big part of our social lives with many outings being centered around food. This can be quite a daunting prospect when you have Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance and aren’t quite sure that the food you are eating is in fact safe. It’s out of your control, out of your kitchen, so how can you make sure that the food you are eating won’t do any damage or cause any symptoms?
Ask the staff
Don’t be afraid to ask the question ‘does this contain gluten?’ As the customer, you are always right and it is the chef’s responsibility to know and understand Coeliac Disease and gluten intolerance and prepare meals accordingly.
For individuals with Coeliac Disease, a kitchen should have a separate gluten free preparation zone, as any gluten in the diet can cause damage to the bowel lining. When ordering as a Coeliac, you must choose only the options that are labeled as ‘gluten free’ and if unsure, ask the staff. Be wary of dishes that include hidden sources of gluten, such as sauces, dressings and stocks.
Individuals with gluten intolerance have a little bit more flexibility and eating out is a little easier. Most people with gluten intolerance can tolerate small amounts of gluten without symptoms, ie. gluten in sauces or stocks or traces of gluten should not cause a problem, but a slice of bread or a bowl of pasta may. These individuals usually know their tolerance level and can order and select meals accordingly.
Safe options when eating out:
- Most items labelled gluten free, but its always good to ask the staff if the preparation area for the meals is also ‘gluten free’ if you have Coeliac disease.
- Nibbles including cheese, vegetable sticks, gluten free rice crackers
- Meat, chicken or fish and vegetable/salad options – choose baked potato over chips as often chips are cooked in a deep fryer with gluten containing products, eg. Batter.
- Salads and protein with gluten free dressings, such as olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Eggs on gluten free toast(if a separate toaster/grill is used and separate butter/margarine)
- If in doubt, ask!