Restaurant Dining When You’re Gluten Free

Restaurant table
Photo: Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, United States (The Bad Waitress — Coffee Shop and Diner) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
American blogger and dietitian Ashley Simper posted a piece this week that offered some tips on dining out when you’re gluten free.

Among other things, Simper recommends that, at the very least, gluten free diners always ask whether the kitchen staff wash their hands or wear gloves when handling gluten free foods. She also suggests asking whether there is a designated preparation area for gluten free foods and whether separate utensils are used in the preparation of gluten free foods.

Some other questions she recommends include:

  • Is equipment cleaned between each use?
  • Is the grill cleaned or foil put down for grilled gluten free foods?
  • Is there a dedicated deep fryer for gluten free foods?
  • Are meats breaded? Battered? Dusted with flour?
  • Are sauces and/or dressings thickened?
  • Are pure spices, prepared seasonings or soy sauce made from wheat used?
  • Is it possible to see the packaging?

Semper also suggests some “if all else fails” questions:

  • Can you cook any of your meat or fish plain (no seasonings), in a separate skillet or on foil on the grill?
  • Can you prepare a plain baked potato?
  • Can you steam plain vegetables in fresh water (not pasta water)?

Given that dining out is fraught with potential exposure to gluten, whether by accident or through a lack of knowledge, it pays to be as assertive as possible with servers – without offending anyone, of course.

A good practice is to call ahead and ask if your diet can be accommodated. That way, no one has to deal with any unpleasant surprises.

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