Day 11 - Safe Restaurant Dining

Restaurant eating is one of the more complicated aspects of a gluten free diet. On one hand it's taking a risk (because of easy cross contamination), while on the other hand it's important for quality of life. Today i'm going to talk about everything you need to know if you're going to eat out a restaurants on a gluten free diet.

We'll talk about:

When should you start eating out after a diagnosis?
Should you not eat out all together?
What to say to the waiter and how to pick a GF restaurant
How to eat out without getting glutened

Eating out basic tips
1. Don't eat fast foods
While you may have heard some fast food restaurants are safe this simply isn't true. No only do the majority of the food contain gluten (burgers, hotdogs, and ever french fries) they aren't healthy for you and the cross contamination risk is at an all time high.

2. Pick the right restaurant
In general restaurants that are more expensive and are very small tend to fall on the safer side. If at all possible eating at a 100% gluten free restaurant is the best and safest choice. More on picking a restaurant in the handouts below.

3. Stick with the basics of meat and vegetables
When looking at the menu or talking to the server it's safest to stick to plain meat or fish with steamed vegetables. I know that may sound boring but trust me it's better then being sick. Once you get more familiar with a restaurant then maybe try another item.

4. Don't trust a gluten free menu item
It's easy to see a gluten free menu item and think oh i'll just order that and say nothing to the waiter. Unfortunately it's not that simple. Often that's catering to the gluten free trend and there is still a cross contamination risk. So make sure when ordering from a gluten free menu that you clearly state you are a celiac or gluten sensitive and you need the meal to be prepared without cross contamination.

When is it safe to start eating out?
It's suggested to wait for a while after diagnosis to start eating out. Why? Because you want to make sure you're healing and getting as little cross contamination as possible. When you first go gluten free waiting until you've seen a good improvement of symptoms is key. Wait until you've mastered the gluten free diet at home and feel much better. Then try it once and see how you feel.

Is it even safe to eat out with celiac disease?
This is a tough one. Eating out on a gluten free diet is getting easier and easier. There are more knowledgeable restaurants and staff members and many places will accommodate. That being said remember that just a tiny amount of gluten can make you ill and cause damage if you have celiac disease.  Cross contamination happens really easily so proper steps need to be taken in order to stay safe. If you're still getting symptoms, or were just diagnosed hold off on the restaurants for a while. It really comes down to a personal choice. If you have multiple other food allergies or sensitives then it may be much harder to find safe places.

Handouts