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The Celiac Expert

Dining Gluten-Free: Tips and Where Gluten Hides

From national chains to corner coffee shops, eateries of all sizes are dishing up fare for the increasing number of gluten-free patrons. However, there are no guarantees that a restaurant will deliver on a gluten-free commitment. The responsibility to eat safely is still up to the diner. Navigate the gluten-free diet while eating out with these helpful tips:

• Check the restaurant website and call ahead to speak to a manager and inquire about gluten-free menu options.

• Educate yourself on the various types of ethnic cuisine. Some use unique ingredients that involve gluten.

• Dine early or late if possible; restaurants will have more time to answer questions and prepare items safely.

• Upon arrival at a restaurant, ask to speak to the chef or manager to let them know you have a medical condition requiring a strict gluten-free diet. Once they understand the seriousness, the staff usually take more precautions in the service.

• Ask specific questions about the menu, including cooking methods, ingredients and how items are served:

  • Do they have gluten-free menu options or can they adjust menu items?
  • How is the dish prepared, what ingredients are used and where might gluten be found?
  • How do they manage cross-contamination? Can they prepare items on a clean grill, in a separate area or in a scrubbed pan using clean utensils and new gloves?

• When your order arrives, confirm with the server that it is the gluten-free item.

• If you had a bad experience, tell the chef and manager as soon as possible.

• If you had a good experience, let the chef, server and manager know. Leave a good tip and visit again. Remember, you are an ambassador for the gluten-free cause!

Next: Restaurant dishes with hidden gluten