Dining out while gluten free can be very stressful. At least it’s stressful for me. Scouring the internet for gluten-friendly restaurants, grilling the waitress when ordering, inspecting the plate for any signs of crumbs or stray noodles (it’s happened!) and still getting sick from something that happened in the kitchen that I had no control over. Stressful.
Is it stressful for you? Thankfully, there are quite a few of us traveling on this gluten free road and the load gets a little lighter when we can share information. Here are some of my tips and some tips and posts from other gluten free friends that you’ll find helpful when eating out.
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Here are some tips that work for me:
Go when it’s not busy
During the dinner rush, there may not be time for the server to really listen to your needs and there are more likely to be mistakes in a busy kitchen. My husband and I have our dates early on a weeknight to avoid a dinner rush.
Become a grateful regular customer
If you have a good experience, make a point of showing up often. Compliment the staff and management on what a great job they do keeping you safe, become friends with your servers and know their names, and tip very well. That way you’re a welcome sight that the restaurantwants to accommodate. I aim for “Hey it’s the Stewarts!” rather than “Oh darn it’s that gawdawful gluten free woman again.”
Go to restaurants that are doing it right
They’re few and far between, but there are businesses out there that not only provide gluten free food, they handle your food safely, and they let you know ahead of time exactly what to expect. Believe it or not, Chuck E Cheese is leading the pack with safety and information. I was so impressed, I wrote a pre-dining experience review.
My Gluten Free Girlfriend
Laurie Clark from My Gluten Free Girlfriend finds these tips help:
I try to look up each restaurant and read reviews from other celiacs that have eaten there. Gluten free reviews have saved me from getting sick.
Think Outside the Box
Think outside the box. There are two places I eat one has hummus the other guacamole. I love both dips and they are safe for me. They come with pitas though which are not. I have gotten both places to cut me fresh green peppers to safely dip with. I used to ask for flour tortillas to be subbed out with corn ones at mexican places too.Of course with my corn issue now that option is out for me but still helpful.”
Gluten Free Foodies
Lisa from Gluten Free Foodies is so much braver than I am. I love how she puts her safety first.
Don’t Be Afraid To Leave
A more established gluten free program and business is the one to go to. I ask questions, politely and if I don’t feel confident in the replies and knowledge of staff, I excuse myself and leave. I think everyone has to take responsibility for themselves and what their confidence is when eating out.
Always remember that you have the right to leave a business if you don’t feel safe. That goes for anything. Do it politely and all will be respectable with both parties. I have celiac and gluten destroys and harms my body. I do everything I can to not allow gluten in my body. Rules I live by.
The Gluten Dude walks you through a real dinner at a restaurant he’s never been to before.
A totally nerve wracking experience for anyone gluten free! His fears really echo mine!
“…almost everything that is fun and spontaneous about eating out can be overshadowed by the anxiety of whether you can get through your ordeal unscathed.
Will your waiter be understanding/patient/human?
Will the kitchen know what you’re talking about when you try to explain what gluten is?
Will they take it as seriously as you need them to take it?”
He takes you step by step through his experience, sharing what he does to ensure a safe dining experience. Step #4 really impressed me because it was something I’ve never tried before and I think it could have a huge impact. I’ll be sure to do it next time.
Jules Gluten Free
Jules Shepard from Jules Gluten Free has written three books for celiacs.
You may find The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten Free very informative as you get started on your gluten free journey. Here, she shares a free chapter excerpt on dining out. It’s a really encouraging post and she really explains her tips. She also provides links to helpful resources. I’m so impressed by her confidence and her willingness to work with chefs and managers.
When asked if I eat out at restaurants now that I have celiac disease, I always reply with a resounding “YES!” I routinely encourage my consulting clients to go out to eat and enjoy restaurants again, as well. Now, I always follow that up with lots of advice on how to do so intelligently and safely…
Living gluten free is not about living in a bubble though, so I urge you to put your fears on the shelf of your gluten-free flour cupboard and close the door!”
See how she does that safely and with confidence: Dining Out At Restaurants
We all have different experiences and different personalities so, I’ve tried to include a wide range of tips from real people who’ve “been there.” I’d love to what works for you, it might just work for someone else! How do you stay gluten-safe when dining out? Have you written a post about it? Include a link in your comment!
This post is linked up at Easy Green Mama’s Gluten Free Tuesday, Poor and Gluten Free (with Oral Allergy Syndrome): Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #39, Gluten Free Homemaker’s Gluten Free Wednesdays, The Tasty Alternative’s Allergy Free Wednesdays, Food For Your Cell’s Free From Friday, Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Fridays
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