Dine Smart. Feel Good.

It has become easier these days to ensure that your home kitchen is gluten-free friendly, but what about dining out? Being gluten-free shouldn’t mean you’re resigned to a future of only eating at home. If you know what questions to ask, you can still enjoy a great meal at a restaurant. Here are some helpful tips and suggestions to help ensure a healthy and joyful restaurant dining experience:

  • `Pick the Right Restaurant: Many restaurants offer gluten-free menu options. Some locations carry gluten-free items that can be easily substituted. Research via the Web when determining where to eat. If you have questions, call the restaurant before making reservations.
  • Know the Gluten-Free Facts: You’ll likely have to educate your server about what grains to avoid and what steps need to be done to prevent cross-contamination. Be familiar with your gluten-free diet so you can educate the less-informed.
  • Make Sure the Staff is Educated about Cross-Contamination: Call ahead  and ask the server if the gluten-free food is prepared on a dedicated gluten-free surface with dedicated utensils and cooked in a dedicated oven, otherwise you may risk cross-contamination.
  • Don’t Go Too Hungry: The hungrier you are, the more likely you are to make a mistake when confronted with an unfamiliar menu.
  • Bring Your Own Pre-Meal Snack: Many restaurants like to provide bread or chips before your meal arrives. It’s easy to feel left out if your dining companions can enjoy those treats. Instead, bring your own gluten-free pre-meal snacks so you don’t have to sit back and watch everyone eat.
  • Pay Attention to Sauces and Sides: Remember it’s not just the main entree you have to pay attention to. Many sauces and side dishes may be prepared with gluten-containing ingredients, so make sure you are thorough in your questioning about menu items.
  • Talk to the Person Who Knows: When expressing your dietary needs to your server, make sure that he or she understands the importance of being 100 percent certain that there is no trace of gluten in your food. If there’s any concern that your point is not getting across, don’t hesitate to speak to the restaurant manager or head chef. Being clear about your needs is better than getting sick.
  • Be Flexible: If you find that nothing on the menu is gluten-free and there are no substitute options, request some plain fish or meat to be sautéed with vegetables in olive oil. Choosing a simple meal may be a bit less exciting, but it will keep you healthy.

As an informed and careful patron, you can enjoy your restaurant dining experience just as much as your friends without a gluten intolerance. So use these tips to prepare yourself and enjoy a night on the town.

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