Guilt-Free Gluten-Free Guide to Eating Out
Whether you suffer from Coeliac Disease or simply just have a slight gluten intolerance, eating out can be challenging. When you’re not in charge of preparing your meals, snacks and desserts, it can be daunting, knowing that your health is in the hands of someone else! Thankfully, the last decade has seen a huge increase in gluten-free options available at many restaurants, cafes and bars. Here are some items to consider when eating out gluten-free.
Do your research and plan ahead
Pre-planning your restaurant, cafe or bar of choice prior to heading out is one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t end up either sick after a meal or simply unable to purchase anything off the menu. Thankfully, most restaurants in 2020 have websites that allow you to browse a menu before you ever step foot on their premises.
A great way to find out if a restaurant can meet your dietary needs is to look at the menu and phone a few days before a restaurant visit. This will help the chef to ensure that there is no chance of cross-contamination when preparing your meal. As a rule of thumb, it is also important to ensure that your beverages are gluten-free too (yes, many drinks actually contain trace amounts of gluten!). Always call up and ask if there is a selection of gluten-free beer, cider and wine for you to enjoy!
Travel around the culinary world
One of the notable things about exploring different cuisines is that many ethnic dishes contain no gluten by default. Take Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine as an example -- most dishes rely heavily on ingredients such as Rice, Rice Noodles and various vegetable or meat dishes that do not contain flour, wheat or any other type of grain. Of course, it is important that you double-check with the chef or service staff prior to ordering your meal in order to prevent cross-contamination. Instead of viewing your gluten-free lifestyle as restrictive, why not use it as a chance to savour dishes from all around the world? A change in perspective can do wonders!
Satisfy that sweet tooth
Thankfully, in the last decade or so, finding gluten-free breads, cakes and desserts has become, much easier, with plenty of choice. Many restaurants, cafes and patisseries now offer a wide selection of gluten-free sweets ranging from flourless chocolate cake, meringues and macaroons, all the way to gluten-free croissants, danishes and pastries. You can even order these diet-friendly desserts online, so the world is your oyster when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth. One thing to note is that you should always check that ingredients such as gluten-free baking powder are used, just to be sure that no gluten finds its way into your favourite dessert.
Visit dedicated gluten free restaurants
The easiest way to eat out on a restrictive diet is to visit dedicated gluten-free restaurants where you know that every item on the menu is something that you can enjoy. This may be a little troublesome when dining out with friends and family, but for those who have open-minded friends and family, doing a little gluten-free restaurant/cafe crawl can be something that is incredibly fun and satisfying for your appetite. An excellent way to narrow down dedicated gluten-free restaurants is to check out the list of accredited businesses on the Coeliac Australia website!
Be careful of sauces
You’re in the clear when it comes to sauces and condiments...right? Well, not entirely. Do you know that common seasonings and sauces such as soy sauce, gochujang, fish sauce and any other condiment containing Barley or Malt aren’t actually gluten-free friendly? This is something important to remember for the next time you head out for gluten-free sushi at your local sushi bar, or when experiencing some delicious gluten-free Pad Thai at your favourite Thai restaurant.
Lastly and most importantly, it is so essential that anyone who suffers from Coeliac Disease or a gluten intolerance is 100% transparent with the wait staff, chefs and restaurant managers when dining out. Explaining in detail your dietary needs before ordering anything off the menu or even dining early and not during peak hours allows restaurants to be slower and more careful in preparing your meal. When in doubt, always ask, and if you’re not entirely sure about whether a dish or item is gluten-free, it is probably best giving it a pass!
Eating out on a strict gluten-free lifestyle or diet comes with its challenges, but it is certainly by no means an impossible feat. By doing your due diligence and thinking outside of the box, you’ll find that there is a smorgasbord of gluten-free delights just waiting for you to devour them!