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Taking Orders

Dining Out with Celiac Disease

Dining Out with Celiac Disease: Image

Feeling overwhelmed by gluten-free dining is a common experience. Canadian studies surveying adult Celiac patients report that 48% of patients avoid restaurants because of the associated burdens (1). Food labelling and eating away from home also remain a continuous problem among patients (2)

The good news is, with a little planning and preparation, celiac patients can enjoy dining out safely.

Dining Out with Celiac Disease: Text
Dining Out with Celiac Disease: Features

Guide for Dining Gluten-Free

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1. Know Your Options

As more and more restaurants are offering gluten-free menu options, it has never been easier to dine out gluten-free. The challenge with celiac disease is finding businesses that meet the strict policies required to achieve a safe dining experience.

  • Do your research to find restaurants that offer celiac-friendly menu options.

  • Visit a restaurant's website or call the business ahead of time to ask a few questions about celiac-friendly dining.

  • Check out the Canadian Celiac Association's Conversation Guide to get some suggestions on questions to ask the restaurant. 

2. Review the Menu Beforehand

  • Familiarize yourself with a restaurant's menu before arrival. By doing this, you can feel prepared to order without second-guessing your safety.

  • Select a menu item in advance to minimize the stress of deciding what to order in the moment. It can also allow you to discuss celiac-friendly menu options with the serving staff in advance if you call the establishment to confirm the safety of your meal.

3. Start the Conversation Early

  • Bring it up early: Try to mention your celiac disease diagnosis as soon as you get introduced to your server. This will allow the serving staff to plan in advance how to work with the kitchen staff to cater to your needs.

  • Keep asking questions: It is important to ask your server if they understand what is required for your order to be safe for you to eat. Can your server confirm it will be prepared separately? Has the kitchen staff been reminded? Work together with your server to ensure you have a pleasant dining experience.

  • Provide feedback: If you found a gluten-free meal to be very enjoyable, let your server know. Restaurants go out of their way to create celiac-safe dining experiences and would love your feedback. Recommend your favorite restaurants to others in the community.

  • Click the icon to download our Restaurant Card which contains information about celiac disease to present at a restaurant.

4. Have a Back-Up Plan

Sometimes when dining out with celiac disease things do not go as planned. You may have called in advance to confirm the safety of your meal and find out you got misinformation. The menu item you may have selected isn't available. When this happens, do not panic. Having additional plans in place will help you make decisions that work for everyone involved. 

  • Know the "safe" option: When you're stuck in a tough situation at a restaurant, ask the server if they can prepare a salad for you with a gluten-free dressing and a protein on the side that is grilled separately. Most restaurants can make this accommodation to suit your needs and provide you with a simple meal to enjoy.

  • Have a snack before you go: It is not easy to make meal decisions when you're hungry and have limited options. There may be times where you have to wait longer than expected for your gluten-free meal. Have a quick and easy snack ahead of time so you can make safe choices while out to eat.

References

  1. Zarkadas M et al. The impact of a gluten-free diet on adults with coeliac disease: results of a national survey. J Hum Nutr Diet 2006; 19(1):41-9.

  2. Zarkadas M et al. Living with coeliac disease and a gluten-free diet: a Canadian perspective. J Hum Nutr Diet 2013; 21(1):10-23.

Dining Out with Celiac Disease: Text
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