Dining out when you're on a gluten-free diet can be a bit of a minefield but it doesn't have to be with these handy hints.
Dining out when you're on a gluten-free diet can be a bit of a mindfield but it doesn't have to be with these handy hints. NOTE: These tips are especially important for those with Coeliac disease. For those people who are gluten intolerant, you may not need to be as careful depending upon your level of intolerance.
If you're booking ahead of time, always mention to staff that you need a gluten-free meal. They can tell you their gluten-free options, or ask the chef if it's possible to substitute certain ingredients to ensure the meal is gluten-free. Most restaurants are really happy to do this, but it always pays to ask first so they aren't caught off guard!
While a dish may appear to be gluten-free on the menu, don't assume this. Always double check with staff that the dish is gluten-free, or ask if it can be made gluten-free. Not all of the ingredients in a dish are listed on the menu, so it's better to be safe than sorry!
Many sauces and dressings contain gluten that may not be obvious. For example, many Asian dishes contain soy or oyster based sauces that contain gluten, so be sure to check that the sauce is gluten-free. The same goes for mayonnaise, which often contains a wheat-based thickener or malt vinegar that isn't gluten-free. If in doubt, ask for your dish without sauce or dressing.
Be sure to ask the staff about cooking methods. For example, many restaurants now offer gluten-free pasta, but that's no use to a Coeliac if it is cooked in the same water as regular pasta! This also applies to gluten-free bread. Some cafes and restaurants will cook the gluten-free bread separately, while others will cook it on the same grill as regular bread. This increases the risk of contamination. One thing to look out for at breakfast or lunchtime is poached eggs that are cooked in malt vinegar. It's always good to ask whether the chef uses a gluten-free option, eg. white vinegar.
Many menu items are deep fried. If these items are gluten-free, but are cooked in the same oil as foods containing gluten, they are likely to be contaminated during the cooking process. Some restaurants cook their fries and wedges in a separate deep fryer to ensure they are gluten-free. Just ask your waiter what the restaurant does to be safe.