Tips for Navigating the Gluten-Free Dining Scene

Eating out can be both a frustrating and satisfying experience when on a gluten-free diet. But with careful planning and communication you can enjoy a safe and delectable meal outside your home. Here are some essential tips to help navigate the dining scene gluten-free.

1. Select Your Restaurant Carefully

For optimal gluten-free meal service, look for restaurants that make their food from scratch, as these establishments tend to understand their ingredients better and can more readily accommodate specific dietary restrictions such as celiac disease. While such restaurants might cost more upfront, they often provide safer solutions overall. We’ve made it simple for you with our Templeton List Restaurant Guide.

2. Plan Your Visit Wisely

Eating during off-peak hours gives restaurant staff enough time to meet your individual requirements, helping prevent gluten contamination of meals.

3. Communicate Your Needs

Calling ahead and discussing any dietary restrictions with the chef or manager can help your dining experience run more smoothly, and can reduce any miscommunication between yourself and the kitchen staff.

4. Cultivate Relationships

Get to know the managers at your favorite local restaurants. Inform them about your dietary restrictions. Ask if they can suggest gluten-free menu items. By building relationships in this way, dining experiences will become more customized and safe.

5. Anticipate Cross-Contamination

Shared fryers can be an easily accessible source of gluten cross-contamination. Even food items naturally gluten-free such as French fries could become contaminated if cooked in oil that contains gluten.

FACT: In a shared fryer, bits of wheat batter may break off and find their way onto your gluten-free food. A study: 60% of restaurant fries contained measurable amounts of gluten when made in fryers also containing wheat. (source: Gluten Free Watchdog)

6. Request Special Preps

Alert kitchen staff of your dietary restrictions and ask if they are equipped to offer gluten-free options.

7. Stay away from High-Risk Areas

In order to avoid cross-contamination risks associated with cafeterias, salad bars, and buffets as much as possible. With shared serving utensils and self-service formats in these facilities making gluten-free options difficult to keep uncontaminated at times of high risk of cross contamination.

FACT: In a shared fryer, bits of wheat batter may break off and find their way onto your gluten-free food. A study: 60% of restaurant fries contained measurable amounts of gluten when made in fryers also containing wheat. (source: Gluten Free Watchdog)

8. Express Appreciation

Thank the staff who accommodate your dietary restrictions with a generous tip and demonstrate your gratitude by thanking them. Showing such gratitude encourages more staff members to focus on accommodating them for future dining experiences and will hopefully ensure your dining experiences continue to exceed expectations.

Conclusion

Although dining out on a gluten-free diet requires extra work, that doesn't mean it must compromise enjoyable dining experiences. With some preparation, clear communication and selecting appropriate restaurants you can enjoy delicious dining outings without risk.

With the proper approach and attitude, eating out gluten-free can be an enjoyable (and healthy) experience! Happy Eating!

The Templeton List is a division of The Templeton Wellness Foundation

Templeton Wellness Foundation