We all love to eat out with friends and family. It is a fantastic part of Australian culture. However when we have to follow a gluten free diet it can become a minefield. I have a friend for instance who really only frequents a Paleo café because she has had so many bad experiences. I don’t need to be that extreme but if you think you can eat a little bit of gluten well, can I just quote Dr Tom from Thedr.com, “you can’t be a little bit pregnant.”
See the issue is many café’s and restaurants is that they source their dressings and sauces in bulk from distributors. These products are commonly not labelled accurately eg. Gluten free. This makes it extremely tricky for the patron to know what is gluten free and what is not. Frankly, it’s not really their area of expertise, so be kind to them.
Here are some great tips and questions to ask in your sweetest voice:
- Ask the establishment of course straight up if they have a dedicated gluten free menu or do they cater for gluten free diets? You can at this point by gauging their response see whether they are going to be happy to assist your requirements or whether you may need to find somewhere else.
- Ask them What is in the salad dressings from the dish you are interested in?
They may seem safe, but be wary. Salad dressings, french fries, soy sauce, sushi rice, soups because there may be gluten added to all of these.
- Ask if they have Gluten Free soy sauce or tomato sauce? If they do, make sure to ask them to bring it to you in its original package. If they don’t, I’d suggest sending it back.
- When you are out for a social occasion remember that not all alcoholic drinks are gluten free. Do your research in advance and ensure that you ask for the brands of alcohol you know are safe for you.
- Is your brown rice, corn tortilla, or any grain you think is safe, gluten free? Ask your waiter or the manager if you can see the actual package the product came in to ensure that there are no hidden sources of gluten. Sometimes chefs can use thickeners in anything, which will often be a wheat derivative.
- Are you familiar with what ingredients do and don’t have gluten in them? If your server is not knowledgeable enough to give you a high degree of confidence, don’t be shy. Ask to speak to a manger so you can get the answers you need. You’d be amazed how open and thankful the staff usually is to the opportunity to learn so that they can more helpful to their next patron with a gluten sensitivity.