A Moment With Michele | Dining Out with Celiac Disease

A Momeent with MicheleEating out can be hazardous to those with celiac disease. No one wants to feel sick after paying for dinner at a nice restaurant. Many restaurants now have a gluten free menu. Hurray! Or should you say no way? Do not get excited when you see a ton of foods marked ‘gluten free’ on the menu, they probably aren’t. Always ask a lot of questions and ask to speak to the manager.

Is there a dedicated gluten free fryer?
Will staff change gloves?
Will my food be prepped in the same areas as all other food?
Are there dedicated cooking/serving utensils?
Will they cook my food/pasta in a clean pan/pot?

We recently ate at a new restaurant in Lancaster that boasted most of the items on the menu were gluten free. The website states, “vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options available.” They had deep fried cauliflower made with chickpea flour, most of the appetizers were marked gluten free. Something inside my head told that this is too good to be true. The waitress confirmed that they do use a common fryer, therefore non of the fried items were gluten free.

I finally decided on a vegetarian dish that the waitress assured me was gluten free. I noticed the frizzled onions on top as she placed the plate in front of me.

Me: “Are those onions done in a deep fryer or in a pan?”
Waitress: “I’m pretty sure they are done in a pan.”
Me: “Could you please check?”
Waitress: “Ok”

She returned a few minutes later, grabbed the plate out from under me and said, “I’m really sorry, they are making you a new one.”

A few months ago we ate at a restaurant in Delaware that also boasted gluten free items on the menu. I thought I was in heaven, they had fries, potato skins, sweet potato fries, etc. The manager came to speak to me and told me that they have a dedicated gluten free fryer. We ordered a bunch of food! Later that evening, I felt as through I had come down with the flu. I was violently sick and did not feel well for several days. My husband convinced me to go back to the restaurant, not to eat but to see a live band. While we were there, I spoke to a different manager who denied that they had a dedicated fryer. I was very angry, but I should have known better. I will not make that mistake again.

The moral of the story is, ask a lot of questions. If still in doubt, choose something that you are sure can be made gluten free or go to a restaurant that you know is safe. No food is worth feeling awful for several days.