A friend once told her server that she had to follow a gluten-free diet and was assured her meal choice would be safe. When it arrived, it was wrapped in a platter-sized flour tortilla. Many restaurants are offering gluten-free menu options and some even invite in experts to train their chefs and servers.
Armed with advanced knowledge and usually some hard-earned experience we gluten-avoiders are finding ways to navigate the restaurant scene with grace and happy tummies. Whether you are a gluten-free newbie or a seasoned veteran, here are some tried and true tips for eating out safely.
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Check restaurant websites ahead of time to review their offerings. Look for dedicated gluten-free menus and markers that items are or can be made gluten-free. Also, call ahead during non-peak hours and talk to the manager or chef. This is your best way of getting your concerns answered clearly and directly.
Go early or late and the staff will have more time to answer your questions. If possible, ask to speak to the chef in person.
The chef wants you to have a great experience and has the knowledge and the authority to meet your specific needs. For better and for worse, gluten free has become a lifestyle trend.
General Resources about Celiac Disease
With so many now eating gluten free for non-medical reasons, not all restaurants and their staff are careful with gluten-free orders. Make sure everyone handling your meal knows you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Is there a separate preparation area for gluten free foods? I very much appreciate the work and effort that went into the freely available cards — but sadly they were not enough. They are also offered as direct, digital downloads and sized for your smartphone so that you can use it with ease as you travel. Per the New York Times :.
Ettenberg does, keep a series of handy translation cards that accurately convey your dietary needs. These cards will not only explain your needs as a strictly gluten free diner, but also address cross contamination using local food names to get exactly the meal you want and need. English translations are also sent upon purchase! Note: The card is available for purchase via trustworthy 3rd party site that uses https, so you know your information is safe.
Restaurant cards available in 15 languages and regions click to jump to page for that language :. General French card available here.
Thank you! Each guide has foods that are safe, foods to avoid, where to shop to buy gluten free products, local celiac societies, further reading, and more. So far:. Since I started offering these cards, readers have asked for an English version with similar text, since it communicates both cross-contamination and roux in soup, soy sauce, mayonnaise, and additional items.
There’s No Eating with Abandon When You Have a Gluten Allergy
In addition to the country guides above, there are region-specific guides on Legal Nomads. These are less about specific dishes to avoid or eat, and more about restaurant recommendations you can enjoy. Gluten free baked eggplant in tomato sauce and topped with fresh herbs and feta in Athens.
- Explaining Your Gluten-Free Needs in Restaurants.
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At the bottom of the page are the city-specific guides I have written for celiacs or for those who are seeking to avoid gluten but still roam the world. These are in addition to the long free guides above.
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Since the disease is more and more commonly diagnosed, I wanted to also provide some resources for readers to avail themselves of as they traveled. These are divided into categories, and were articles and sites I bookmarked as I began my own work and started traveling as a celiac.
When first diagnosed, I was younger and resistant to learning more. As I started working as a travel writer, I found myself more and more interested in food and certainly needing to know as much as possible to keep me safe.