Gluten free eating out - it IS possible!

Whether its a picnic with friends or a meal in a restaurant, gluten free eating out is possible! 

Many celiac sufferers are concerned about eating anything that they have not prepared at home, so I hope that the tips on this page will give you the confidence to try other options.

After all you deserve to enjoy an evening out in a posh restaurant, a party or a family get together just as much as anyone else, don't you?

Restaurants - Parties - Picnics - Let's do lunch!

Gluten free restaurants

Perhaps top on every celiac's danger list comes restaurants. The problems to look out for here include...

On occasions the menu might have a symbol beside dishes that are gluten free. There may even be a special gf menu available, so its always worth asking when you arrive, or phoning before you leave home. (By the way, if the person at the other end of the phone asks "What is gluten?" then you might want to pick another venue!)

If you are at all unsure, ask!

Ask the person who brings you the menu what they would recommend for someone on a gluten free diet. They may be able to point out meals that are safe for you to eat. If they are not sure, explain what you cannot eat and ask if a particular choice contains those ingredients. If you are not confident in their reply, ask if you could talk to the chef. Depending on the restaurant, the chef may come to the table to assist you. 

More and more, these days I am finding that members of the restaurant staff either have celiac themselves or know someone who does. As such they are quite happy to cater for others with the condition, and they can quickly point out the dishes that you can eat safely.

One local venue that I visit always keeps a couple of gluten free desserts. on the menu so that there is something for me to choose from.

Perhaps you liked to eat food from far away places before you were diagnosed? Don't worry, there may still be some you can enjoy.

  • Good Indian restaurants are often safe to eat in, as their cooking traditionally uses gluten free flours such as gram.
  • On the other hand you may need to take more care with Chinese cuisine as many soy sauce's contain gluten, and this is used extensively.
  • You may think that Italian establishments are out of bounds, but again you may be surprised.

Each time you try gluten free eating out in a restaurant you are helping to educate others about the condition, which in turn makes it easier for other celiac sufferers in the future.

Things have improved since I was a kid!

As a child, gluten free restaurants only existed in my imagination. Back in the 1960s and 70s hardly anyone had heard of celiac disease, let alone knew how to feed someone who had it! The ingredients for gluten free cooking were almost impossible to get hold of, and certainly not something that a restaurant would keep in stock.

Eating out with my family was a nightmare. My parents would try to explain what I could and couldn't eat to chefs that had never heard of a gluten free diet, but you could see they were not taken seriously.

It was embarrassing, and got even worse when the meal they did bring me had to go back. There was often a slice of bread on the plate or croutons scattered on my salad. I can remember everyone else tucking in, while I sat waiting for something boring to be brought out for the picky kid on the table in the corner.

Thank goodness it is easier now! You shouldn't have to experience this.

Gluten free eating out at parties

We all enjoy a party, whether its to celebrate the Christmas season, a birthday or just to share some time with friends.

You may feel it is safer to be the host so that you know what went into the food, but you don't want to end up doing the cooking every time, do you?

If you know the hosts well, why not print out my gluten free food list to make things easy for them?

If the person catering for the party is an acquaintance rather than a friend or family member, you may like to offer to take a dish with you. That way at least you will know that there will be something that you can eat.

Alternatively, eat at home before the party, which not only prevents you feeling hungry while everyone else is tucking in, but you can honestly say, "I ate earlier, I really couldn't manage another bite!".

But don't always assume that there will be nothing for you to eat, as you may well be surprised!

Recently, at my cousins wedding, I was told that I would be provided with a special meal and was delighted to be served with a huge plateful of smoked salmon and cucumber gluten free sandwiches. They were delicious and I suffered no ill effects afterwards.

Gluten free eating out - Picnics and Barbeques

Now here is an ideal opportunity to enjoy the company of friends, good food and the fresh air, all in one. 

No-one minds if you bring your own food to a picnic and the fact that it is gluten free is not likely to matter in the slightest.

You can enjoy crispy salads, homemade dips, fresh fruit, cheese (if you are not lactose intolerant), cooked chicken drumsticks, gluten free bread rolls and much, much more.

Barbecues are a bit more risky, but we have an easy solution. Take your own mini barbecue and food with you! There are gluten free sausage options available now, in addition to hamburgers, steak and veggies which you can cook up easily.

Lunch out

If you need a mid-day meal when you are not at home, there are various options available. These could include a packed lunch at your desk, a meal in the works canteen or maybe a gluten free eating out experience with friends at a local pub.

Here in the UK there is at least one supermarket that sells ready made gluten free sandwiches, something which I never dreamed would ever happen in my younger days. At the time of writing this they only offered one choice - prawn - but I happen to love seafood, so I for one, was very happy.

There are so many options available for a gluten free lunch that I created a whole page on the subject! Don't forget to check it out.

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