In case you haven’t noticed, many people are going “gluten-free” lately. Being gluten-free consists of avoiding foods with protein gluten, such as wheat, barley, and rye. While this elimination of gluten has become a fad diet, there are about 18 million Americans that have gluten sensitivity, and an estimated two to three million people in the United States have Celiac disease, according to The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. People with celiac suffer from inflammation of the intestines when they consume gluten, or any food contaminated with gluten. For this reason, there are plenty of recipes and tips to staying gluten-free at home; but not every restaurant has great gluten-free options. Whether you have a gluten allergy, are trying a new diet, or are just curious, being gluten-free does not mean you have to give up eating out at restaurants. There are many ways you can ensure that you can have a great dining experience while sticking to being gluten-free.
Know Your Stuff
Being completely aware of what contains gluten, and about staying completely gluten-free, will help you in dining out. This means being aware of which grains to avoid. For a complete table on which grains are gluten-free and which ones to evade, look here.
Other than that, understanding cross-contamination is important. If you have a gluten-allergy, even preparing your meal with the knife they sliced bread with could make you ill. Double check to make sure that they cook and prepare everything separate from any gluten products.
Notify Your Server
If a restaurant does not have a stated gluten-free section, notify your server of your desire to stay away from foods with protein gluten. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), restaurants in Massachusetts are now required by law to display a food allergy awareness poster that reads “Before placing your order, please inform your server if a person in your party has a food allergy.” Because of this, you are covered by law to inform your server and have a right to order food that covers your gluten-allergy. In order to avoid any confusion and disappointments, you could speak to the host before being seated, or even try calling ahead. That way, the restaurant can prepare for, and accommodate, your needs.
Even if you have spoken to someone about your needs ahead of time, when ordering, do not be afraid to be specific. While FARE makes sure that all MA restaurants “have to have on staff a certified food protection manager who has been issued a Massachusetts certificate of allergen awareness training”, your particular server may not be aware of every stipulation of your food allergy. Specify that you want the baked potato instead of french fries, or that your vegetables should be sautéed in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and nothing else. Don’t be afraid to be assertive, because your health should not have to be compromised. However, you should always stay polite and positive, and tip well. If the restaurant has done a great job accommodating you, then they should be rewarded.
Find Gluten-Free Menus
If you are still not sure about what to order while out to eat, it may be safer to stick to an establishment that already has specific gluten-free menus in place. With gluten allergen awareness rising, more and more restaurants have separate menus that are catered directly to gluten-free. One great choice is Ceres Bistro in Worcester, MA. They have a lunch and dinner gluten-free menu that have various delicious for you to choose from. To see all of our options, see our full menu here. Then make your reservation with us today!