Ensuring you are served a gluten free meal when eating out requires investigation and persistence. Becoming an investigator in your own right is a learning curve but it pays off when you can be confident you are looking after your health. Here are our tips and tricks for ordering gluten free meals.
Preparation before the day
- Look up the menu on the net to ensure there are some gluten free options available.
- If there is no menu on the net or no clear gluten free markings call the restaurant and enquire about your options. They may not specifically cater to gluten free but should be happy to prepare something in advance. If you are really concerned about their knowledge or ability to prepare something for you, suggest a change of venue to somewhere you would feel comfortable.
Tip: When organising to go out for a meal suggest a restaurant you are comfortable with or a cuisine that is more conducive to having gluten free options.
When a gluten free marking isn’t present
- Ask the staff to detail the gluten free options available.
- If you are not confident the staff understand your requests or have followed up sufficiently with the kitchen try to catch another staff member's attention or ask to speak to the manager or someone from the kitchen.
- You may find it simpler to outline what dishes you are interested in so they can check those specifically, it leaves less room for error and means the kitchen staff will be aware a gluten free order for that dish might be coming through.
When a gluten free marking is present
- If the menu does have gluten free items marked you should still always check with the staff before ordering that their dishes are 100% gluten free but still always specify that you require gluten free when placing your order.
- If there are questionable ingredients in the dish you are interested in have the staff confirm with the kitchen that the dish is 100% gluten free.
- As with above, if you are not confident the staff understand your requests or have followed up sufficiently with the kitchen try to catch another staff member’s attention or ask to speak to the manager or someone from the kitchen.
- Reiterate to the person taking your order that you require a completely gluten free meal.
When the meal arrives
If for any reason you are concerned that your meal might not be gluten free check with the staff. It is much better to be a pest than feel awful for the rest of the evening.
As with all of humanity’s misgivings education is the key, as with all education, it will only ever reach a certain percentage of people. The people we do need to educate are those in the food business, those who take a coeliac or gluten intolerant person’s order. If you come across a restaurant who isn’t educated enough, point it out, you will make the next person’s experience much more enjoyable. Perhaps pass on these ideas for making restaurants and cafes gluten free friendly.