Eating away from home
Eating away from home can pose some challenges for the newly diagnosed. With experience and a little forethought you should be able to enjoy the experience. Remember, the gluten free diet must never be forgotten, not even for one meal out.
The Golden Rule when you are out and about is ‘Be Prepared’. This is particularly important if it is your child who requires the gluten free diet. Pack a container with a snack whenever you are going out just in case there is nothing suitable available.
Some hints and tips for eating in a restaurant or at a friends home are below. You’ll find more information in your members handbook.
Helpful Hints for dining out
1. Phone ahead, if possible, to speak to restaurant staff and advise them of your dietary needs
2. Communicate with wait staff and/or the chef on arrival (even if you have spoken to them in advance) to reiterate your requirements.
Ask the wait staff about specific menu items that you suspect will be suitable. Talk with the wait staff about specific ingredients within these items. Check any sauces or coatings and ask if the meal is garnished and with what. If they are not sure ask them to check with the chef. Some unexpected sources of gluten to watch out for...
- Commercial stocks and stock cubes (these may contain wheat starch-based thickeners)
- Gravy or sauces thickened with flour or wheat-based cornflour
- Soy sauce that contains wheat
- Commercial mayonnaises, dressings or sauces which may contain wheat starch-based thickeners
- Deep fried food (this may be contaminated by crumbed, floured or battered items fried in the same oil)
- Croutons used as garnishes
- Food served on toast or in biscuit baskets
- Icing sugar on desserts (may contain wheat starch)
- Cake tins that have been floured prior to baking
- Grilled and pan-fried meat, fish and chicken dishes may be floured before cooking, and can also become contaminated with gluten if cooked on the same grills or pans as floured or crumbed foods
- If self-serving from a buffet, ensure that serving utensils have only been used in gluten free dishes
3. Use your Restaurant Card (included with membership) to help communicate what foods are safe for you to have.
4. Make sure the staff are aware that you have coeliac disease and your meal must be strictly gluten free.
5. Always be patient and good humoured. Use positive language and always let the chef/staff know if you have had a good experience.
Tips for Eating at a friend’s home
1. Some friends may be concerned about catering for the gluten free diet. Give them a copy of the Catering Resource to help them choose safe foods
2. Talk with your host in advance about your special requirements (It is always easier to discuss your diet in advance rather than arrive and sit with an empty plate which is both uncomfortable for you and your host).
- Ask the host what will be served – They may be willing to make the meal gluten free. You can also offer to contribute to the meal.
3. If you eat at a friends place regularly, they may like to keep gluten free ingredients on hand for when you visit. For example, you could encourage your friend to keep the following ingredients on hand for when you visit:
- gluten free baking powder
- maize cornflour
- gluten free tamari or gluten free soy sauce
- gluten free mayonnaise
- gluten free stock cubes/liquids/powders
- gluten free icing sugar
- gluten free flour mix
These are common ingredients in foods that may be cooked for you. It is likely your host will be aware of the more obvious ingredients (e.g. pasta), but with the suggested ingredients on hand, the whole dish is likely to be gluten free and not spoilt by one ingredient containing gluten.