For every 1 in 70 Australians living with coeliac disease a strict avoidance of gluten is the only known method of managing the condition effectively. If you’ve been recently diagnosed and have no idea where to start and are now low-key freaking out about the next social event with the fam, we’re here to share our tips on how to enjoy a gluten-free meal and take the stress out of dining out.
Read our past blog about all things Gluten
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Plan by looking up restaurants ahead of time and if available, look for those with gluten-free menus. Do not be afraid to contact the restaurant ahead of time to speak to the chef about their processes and what they have available for you. This is particularly important as a report from 2018 came out revealing that almost 10% of ‘gluten-free’ products actually contained gluten, which led to necessary re-education and training for those in the industry.
Start off by calling a day before during a non-busy period so that your needs are communicated through effectively. Alternatively, Coeliac Australia provides a directory of restaurants that undergo an extensive accreditation process that comply with their gluten free standard, so you can have added confidence every precaution is taken to make sure your meal is gluten free. Social media groups with members also living with coeliac disease can also provide insight into new and upcoming restaurants for you to scope out as well, however while one member may have had a good experience it’s still a good idea to do your own research as well.
TALK TO THE WAIT STAFF
Clear communication is key when it comes to ensuring a good experience. Let the staff know you are coeliac and require a gluten-free diet. It may be necessary to reiterate the importance of needing a gluten-free meal to staff members as it is much more than just the acute symptoms that come from eating gluten and more so the risk of other chronic diseases that could potentially arise if exposed to gluten. Fortunately, the awareness of coeliac disease and the seriousness of the need to adhere to a gluten-free diet is much more commonly known among the community, making it easier for staff to know the severity of the consequences and the seriousness of needing to adhere to this diet.
COMMON QUESTIONS TO ASK
Now that you’ve planned and informed the staff, the next step is to double check your order. Again, do not be afraid to ask plenty of questions before ordering to help narrow down whether the meals and processes in place are safe for you to eat or not.
Some examples include:
- Do any of the dressing or sauces contain wheat or flour?
- Are any of the meals marinated in a sauce that may contain gluten?
- Is there a dedicated fryer/tray/oven/pot for gluten-free meals?
- Are gluten-free meals cooked on a separate surface to gluten-containing meals. If not, what processes are in place to prevent cross contamination?
- Are any thickeners added to meals that include flour?