After being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, it became MUCH more difficult to go to restaurants. Oftentimes my friends make comments such as; “There are gluten free options, so you’ll be fine.” Mhmm… Thanks, BUT I have been to TOO many restaurants that say, “Yes, there are gluten free options, but it’s ‘gluten free’ not ‘Celiac safe!’” That leaves me to either getting a plain, small, and dressing free salad, or sitting at a dinner table with no food. Yup! You heard me right!
I am extremely careful when it comes to eating at restaurants. I will not take any chances, because Celiac Sick, Glutened, Gluten-ated, whatever you want to call it, isn’t fun. You tell me how many people would be okay getting instantly and violently ill in public, and feeling the after effects for a solid week?
From my experiences, these are some of my most important tips. Don’t feel uncomfortable? Ask the questions you need to ask! If you don’t, you’ll be sorry you didn’t take the time to get over feeling embarrassed. It is important to be confident, and make the effort to ensure that you have a great, safe meal!
I often like to go to the same restaurants, as I am comfortable that the owners, waiters, and waitresses understand my allergy, and will ensure that the food is made completely gluten free. Many of them even know my order! Truthfully, it’s a pleasure not even needing to order when you sit at a restaurant! Although some people may find that to be embarrassing, I love it! I feel more comfortable knowing that they’re taking the time to remember my order, and to make sure I will be safe.
I ALWAYS ask and remind waiters and waitresses that it is not a preference, but an allergy!
When it comes to:
Salads – nuts, salad dressings, etc. often contain gluten. If you’re not sure, just make sure you ask to not have it in your salad. Make sure you remind the restaurant that it needs to be made separately, the kitchen needs to wash their hands, and ensure it is made in a safe area of the kitchen.
Pastas – Cook the GF noodles in a clean and fresh pot of water. No utensils can be the same as other pasta dishes being cooked. Yes, it takes longer to cook… but who cares! The goal is to get fresh and gluten free food. I never allow restaurants to add Parmesan cheese, because you can never be certain that the waiter hasn’t touched gluten prior to shaving the cheese, therefore leading to a potential cross-contamination situation.
Pizza – Unless it is made in a different oven, or placed in a special pan that keeps it from touching the oven, I am not comfortable, and you shouldn’t be either! Why take a chance, right?
Meat and fish – Unless sauces are GF, I avoid them at all costs! Plain, lemon and dill… simple, but still a tasty way to go! (I recommend the same recipe with cooked veggies!)
Sandwich/bagel/wrap places – be very careful (Speak with the manager or owner if possible)
Sushi – No soya sauce, teriyaki sauce, and request that the chef washes his/her hands (Sushi restaurants are generally quite careful if you notify them of your severe allergy).
All-you-can-eat/buffet – Can’t be sure that there hasn’t been cross-contamination ever, as people are able to touch and contaminate foods very easily!
Chain restaurants – More difficult for me, as there are too many options on their menus. (However, I have noticed that some chain restaurants are beginning to make dedicated gluten free spaces within their kitchens, always confirm though!)
Fast food – Be VERY careful. (They work quickly, and have difficulty avoiding cross-contamination) I avoid fast food restaurants at all costs!
Take-away meals – More difficult because you cannot interact, explain, and see the final product prior to it being packaged. Ask questions, etc.
Love to all xo,
Welcome to MCL World
I am currently in my 20's, working a full-time job in downtown Toronto, and enjoying the foods I have always dreamed of. I absolutely love to travel, and I am always excited to explore new gluten-free restaurants that I can feel comfortable at in a new city or country!