Living and Thriving Gluten Free

Healthy & Whole Food Eating

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This is part of a beginner series. To see the others, click here.

When you need to eat gluten free due to Celiac disease, or any other condition that requires you to eat 100% gluten free, eating out can be a real challenge.

Dining table in stone restaurant
Image by: Irina Shutko

It may seem like it's getting easier, because so many restaurants are now advertising they have gluten free options. However, this is extremely misleading. They may be "gluten light," but most are not safe for those requiring 100% gluten free.

As much as you may not want to hear it, you can't go back to being so called "normal," and just blindly go eat out anywhere at the drop of a hat. Spontaneous eating out is no longer a part of your life.

Elegantly set table in a restaurant
Image by: Fritz the Cat

However, if you do want to eat out, and you're willing to put in some "leg work," you can find some safe places to eat.

I recommend visiting restaurants that you may want to consider ahead of time. Go in a slow time, when you'll get a chance to talk to the manager and the chef. You can ask all kinds of questions about how the gluten free food is prepared, how it's separated from gluten food to prevent cross contamination, if all the ingredients used are labeled gluten free, if they use fresh water for each item needing water, segregated deep fryers, clean pans, clean cutting boards and food prep areas, clean gloves, etc.

It often is easier to choose simpler menu items, such as simple plain meat and steamed, boiled or baked potatoes and vegetables. It's very common for sauces, spice mixes, and flavor bases, such as those used to make soup, to contain gluten ingredients. It's best to avoid them if it's not a Celiac safe restaurant.

It's important that when you talk to these people that you get a positive response, and that they don't show impatience. If they look irritated, they likely will not take the time to prepare your food in a safe manner.

If you can find restaurants that have a dedicated Celiac safe kitchen, this can be extremely beneficial. There are starting to be more of these around. Some restaurants may have 2 kitchens, one regular, and one Celiac safe dedicated gluten free.

The term gluten free has no legal meaning (in the US) as far as restaurants are concerned. This means we'll see an increase in gluten free restaurants popping up, but it would be better if they were marketed as gluten light. Most simply are not safe for those with Celiac.

One key thing to keep in mind is that gluten free may be trendy, and lots of people have heard about it. But very few people completely understand exactly what it means to be 100% gluten free (even many who have Celiac disease).

It's also critical to understand that only a portion of people can tell when they eat gluten. Just because you're gluten free friend says they "feel fine" eating at a particular restaurant, does not in any way mean it's 100% gluten free.

Terrace restaurant at sunset
Image by: JHill100

Take the time to preplan, and over time you'll start to have a small collection of places you can eat out at.

Even if your ultimate decision is to not eat out, you can still enjoy the socializing aspect of going out. Personally, I rarely eat out, but I still go with my friends wherever they go. I eat ahead of time, and just have a coffee or a juice.

Due diligence is vital for you to stay safe.

Always, always, always err on the side of caution. It simply is not worth being lax about the food that you eat. This is critical to your long term health.

Whenever you're in doubt, just skip eating out.

This is part of a beginner series. To see the others, click here.

Here's some other info on how to learn to eat out:

Finding Good Restaurants

How to Go Gluten Free – Part 4: In the Restaurant

Why One San Francisco Restaurant Goes Out of the Way for Gluten-Free Guests - Eat Like Me, Ep. 4

FREE Guide
10 Steps to Healthy Gluten Free Eating
GF 10 Steps Guide
The 10 Step Guide is packed full of tips, tricks, recipes and regular Member only tips to get you started on the road to living healthy without gluten.
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