I’m not going to sugar coat this, eating out when you must be gluten-free is not going to be easy. Although it can be trying at times, it is certainly not impossible. To try to make this a little bit easier on you, I’ve got 7 tips for eating out gluten-free without getting sick.
Eat Earlier or Later Than Usual
Restaurants are generally busier at certain times of the day, and indeed, on certain days of the week, and that can be challenging if you cannot consume gluten.
When restaurant staff are busy and rushing around, they are more likely to make mistakes and forget about any special requests you may have made.
If for example, you need to request that your fries be cooked in oil that has not been cross-contaminated, you can clearly and concisely tell the waiting staff, who can then inform the kitchen. If things are busy, this request could potentially be overlooked.
Try to find out when the busiest times are, and maybe arrive an hour earlier, or later, to avoid the rush.
Read the Menu
As we’re living in the age of the internet, we can now browse a menu in the comfort of our own homes. Before you leave for your meal, look at the menu of the restaurant in question and find out what they offer that would be suitable for a gluten-free diet, and see if they have any speciality gluten-free options.
More and more eateries now cater for gluten-free diets, so you can now even order battered food made from gluten-free flour, that has been fried in gluten-free oil.
When deciding on a restaurant, it may be wise to choose a restaurant with plenty of gluten-free options. This not only means you can have more variety and more to choose from, but it also means that the staff will likely be qualified and experienced to deal with gluten-free diets and requests. This again minimizes the risks of mistakes happening, or cross-contamination.
This should be a given, but I’m going to remind you anyway. Be nice! Be polite! You want these people, the servers, the chef, the wait staff to accommodate your special requests. The more polite you are in your speech and actions, the more likely they are to going to be in wanting to accommodate you.
Be Clear on What You Need
If possible, speak to the chef or the manager of the restaurant and be clear on exactly what you need. Remember, restaurants often share preparation surfaces, knives, cutlery, fryers, grills, pans, and so on.
This is why cross contamination is so important. Even something as basic as the chef washing their hands before they prepare your meal will make a massive difference.
If a chef is preparing fish and chips for example, they won’t wash their hands after each individual fish they prepare. They wash their hands when the fish has been floured and dipped into the batter.
If they were to then prepare your gluten-free version, even though there would only be small traces of gluten, this would still be enough to trigger a reaction. Washing their hands would therefore make all of the difference.
Finally, before you dig into your meal, be sure to speak to the server and ask them to confirm it is gluten-free. If there’s a salad dressing, or a sauce, even on the side, that you don’t recognize, again ask the server. If they aren’t sure they’ll ask the chef, who will then confirm that it is, or is not, gluten free. I have done this many times and they have been most accommodating. I even had a waitress go and check the label herself and come right back to me with the answer.
Thank Them Generously
While I’m not going to tell you when and how much to tip, it is worth noting that kitchen environments, and restaurants themselves, can be stressful places to work at the best of times.
As a way of thanking the kitchen staff and servers for going the extra mile for you, you may want to do the same for them to show them your appreciation.
If you plan on eating there again, they will also likely remember and look after you, which is certainly not a bad thing.
The servers and chefs do not want to intentionally make you sick. If you follow these suggestions you should be well prepared to eat out successfully.
Well hopefully these tips come in handy when you have to dine out. Any little thing you can do to continue living gluten free, without disrupting your whole life, will greatly improve your results and your health!
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