Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to Eat Out

Dining out can be difficult when eating gluten-free. Try these tips to get a great GF meal you don't have to make that won't make you sick!

  • Ask if the restaurant has a Gluten-Free Menu - you'll be surprised how many do!
  • Research the menu before hand to determine if there is anything you can eat there. Most menus are available online or as a take-out menu from the restaurant.
  • Call ahead and let them know your dietary needs and see if they will work with you to find something to eat.
  • Eat at large hotel restaurants. Hotel chefs are almost always very well trained in creating gluten-free and allergen free fare.
  • Ask the server for recommendations of what can be prepared for your allergy needs.
  • If the server is not able to help, ask to speak to the chef. Chefs are almost always willing and happy to speak to you. Generally, you will end up with the best meal as it will be a unique creation made especially for you by the chef!
  • Always bring a snack with you in case you can't eat anything.
  • If you know in advance you won't be able to eat anything, eat before you go.
  • If you don't know in advance whether or not you will be able to eat anything (i.e., a date to an unknown restaurant), eat at least a little something before you go so you won't suffer watching everyone else eat!
  • Ask for items not on the menu such as a side of steamed vegetables, a side of steamed rice and a plain, grilled chicken breast. Most of the time restaurants have this on hand even if it's not advertised.
  • For a "Set Menu" at a wedding, meeting, etc., call the venue ahead of time and let them know your needs. They will make you something you can eat for an entree (not always the starter and dessert, but sometimes). You can also contact the host or hostess of the event and they can work with their caterers to create your gluten-free dish.
Most importantly, don't be too embarrassed to ask for help. This has always been my biggest problem! So much of the time my family has had to do it for me because I don't want to be a "bother" to the people that are busy working. You'll be surprised how common this is and how accommodating and helpful so many restaurants will be. It's worth the time not to get sick, even if it's tough to get out of your comfort zone and do it!

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