It took me a little while after I was diagnosed with celiac disease to figure out what questions to ask at restaurants. I felt really self-conscious asking at first, but it got easier each time.
How do you explain to a restaurant that you’re gluten-free? Telling your server is an important first step, but it can also help to have a resource to make sure that the restaurant understands how to proceed once you make that gluten-free request.
The NFCA has a free tip sheet to help you dine out safely. The tip sheet walks you through a number of important questions that can help you determine if a restaurant is properly prepared to meet your gluten-free needs. This guide cannot guarantee a safe meal, but it can help you feel more confident and comfortable when speaking with the staff about their gluten-free options.
On the right hand side of the sheet, there is a slip you can sign, tear off and leave with the restaurant to recommend that they get gluten-free training.
Here are some of the tips from the sheet:
Tip 1: Call ahead
Questions to ask:
- Do you have a gluten-free menu?
- Can you tell me what gluten is?
- What are your gluten-free menu options?
- Have you completed a gluten-free training program, such as GREAT Kitchens?
Tip 2: Be detailed
Ask these questions once you are seated at the restaurant:
- Do you use any spice blends or mixes?
- Do you use four or soy sauce in the dressing/sauce/batter/base?
- How do you top/garnish the dish (i.e. croutons, fried onions, crackers)?
- Do you use a separate prep space for gluten-free food?
- Do you use separate cookware and utensils for gluten-free food?
- Do you clean the grill?
- Do you use a dedicated fryer?
Tip 3: Be proactive
Look closely at your plate. Be sure to ask if yours is the gluten-free plate. If you are unsure that your meal is gluten-free at any point during your experience:
- Ask to speak to the manager or chef.
- Explain that you have celiac disease and will get sick from traces of gluten.
- Relay the facts of your experience, including relevant details.
- Ask the restaurant to become a GREAT Kitchen (use cutout on guide.)
It is possible to dine out safely if you have celiac disease. But it’s important for you to be proactive about learning everything you can about your gluten-free diet and making sure those preparing your food understand, as well.
Eat well and be healthy!
Source: National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
Maizy has those red things in the garden again that I LOVE! She calls them tomatoes. I call them YUMMY! When she picks them I always give her my CUTEST cute doggy look and then I get to EAT one!