When it comes to gluten free dining, safety is one of the biggest concerns anyone on a gluten diet will have.
A close second would also be a concern for gluten free menu choices and choosing the right one, but we’ll get to that in another post.
So what’s the biggest issue when it comes to dining out safely on a gluten free diet?
So how exactly do you avoid cross contamination, you may ask?
There are a few things that you most definitely must do when you’re dining out gluten free at a restaurant.
6 Gluten Free Dining Safety Tips
Here are 6 things you should do when you’re eating out at any restaurant.
1. Call Ahead
Calling a restaurant ahead can do two things for you: know whether or not the restaurant is gluten free friendly (gluten free menu, gluten free food choices, accommodating staff and kitchen); see is special precautions or dining services could be arranged (permission to speak with the chef before he/she prepares your meal, special menu…I know Disney World restaurants do this, and even access to official ingredient lists.)
2. Ask Questions
Asking questions is hands down the most important thing you need to eat. What procedures are in place at the restaurant to ensure a safe meal? How does the kitchen know that I have special dietary needs and will need a gluten free dish? Does the chef know all the ingredients in your dish? Does the restaurant offer a gluten-free or allergen-friendly menu that makes sense? I say make sense because if they sell sushi with soy sauce on their gluten free menu, is the soy sauce 100% gluten free and can they tell which one is which?
Asking questions will ultimately allow you to choose the best gluten free dish possible.
And you never know, some restaurants may have the dedication and proper experience your dining restrictions. For example, Disney World cast members are trained to handle almost all allergies and will accommodate your dietary needs.
3. Don’t Ever Ever Ever Assume
You should never assume that something is gluten free on the menu just for the look of it. For example, if a the menu at a Japanese restaurant has teriyaki chicken with steamed rice, don’t assume that it’s gluten free because it sounds like it. You must make sure that the soy sauce in the dish is gluten free, so it’s best to ask your waiter. Plus, you need to confirm that the waiter understands the diet, and not just assume that they do after you told them. And the last thing that you do is to double check when your meal arrives to be sure you’ve received the correct dish that’s gluten free. Sometimes the person bringing the dishes to your table isn’t your waiter so they might switch up the dishes by accident and give you the wrong one. This can be a huge problem if you’re eating out with a group and someone at your table orders the same dish.
4. Know Before You Go
It’s always best to know about the restaurant before you go. Do they have a gluten free restaurant menu? How educated are the servers and chef with a gluten free diet? Has there been past experiences of cross contamination?( read reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Urbanspoon, etc.)
And what better source of gluten free restaurant menus than this blog right here? 🙂
5. Ask Them To Keep the Bread Away From the Table
If you’re are just starting out on a gluten free diet, chances are you might be accustomed to just grab a piece of bread from the bread basket without even knowing what you’re doing. I remember when I first started my gluten free diet, our server brought bread to our table and without hesitation, I grabbed a piece of bread without even knowing what I was doing. It was just a habit and I couldn’t help myself. So to keep you from doing the same thing, be sure to tell your waiter or waitress to skip the bread basket. Your tummy will thank you.
6. Bring a Typed Card with Your Allergies and the Foods to Avoid
Using an allergy dining card (Gluten Free Passport) will tell your server that you have a gluten allergy by listing all the foods you can’t have including the ingredients they’d least expect. This is especially helpful if you’re eating out at a restaurant overseas because they can be translated.
So to close out things…
By following these safety precautions, your gluten free dining experience will be a lot safer and the threat of cross contamination will be reduced drastically.
Also be sure to check out the original gluten free eating out guide.