Pam Cureton: Hi! I am Pam Cureton, registered Dietitian at the University of Maryland, Center for Celiac Research.
Today, in partnership with General Mills, I am talking about how to eat gluten-free, healthfully. And now I am going to discuss dining out.
The good news is many restaurants today are offering gluten-free menus and options. In order to dine out safely there are a few steps you can take to ensure a good dining experience.
Do your homework ahead of time. Most chain restaurants will list allergen information, including wheat or gluten, on their website. You can also call the restaurant ahead of time to discuss your gluten-free needs. Most important, when you arrive at the restaurant, you should alert the staff to your gluten-free needs, even if you've already called ahead and ask what menu options are safe. If you're not confident that the server understands your request, you should ask to speak to the manager. Trust your instincts, and if you do not feel that the server or the manager are clearly able to meet your dietary needs, do not hesitate to leave.
Other tips for dining out include, try to eat at off hours. Don't be afraid to ask how food is prepared. For example, questions like does the marinade contains Soya sauce? Are the French Fries coked in a dedicated fryer? Are the hamburger and the hamburger buns grilled together at the same time? If the restaurant does offer a gluten-free menu, ask about how they handle cross contact. If language is a barrier or you otherwise have difficulty communicating your request, you can try downloading dining cards that come in various languages and describe the gluten-free diet.
Be pleasant but firm about your request. And if you do have an enjoyable experience, be sure to express your thanks to the staff of the restaurant.
I hope these tips have been helpful for the next time you dine out. For more information, visit celiaccenter.
org or liveglutenfreely.