In another article, we’ll look at strategies to reduce the stress, reduce the risk, and increase your success at maintaining a strict gluten-free diet when eating at restaurants.
Gluten Free Diet Risks at Restaurants
There are several risks to eating gluten-free at restaurants. Most of them are because the cook often does not really understand what a gluten free diet is, and does not really understand the ingredients in the food.
I started out thinking that anyone who works in a particular industry, the food industry for example at restaurants, knows something about food. This isn’t true.
At better restaurants with well-trained staff, and a chef instead of a cook, you’ll have much better luck. And the general public, including your average cook who doesn’t care as much about food ingredients as you wish, actually has heard of celiac disease and gluten free diet more often than not these days. Still, you have to be careful.
Given that the cook may not understand food all that well, including basics like wheat contains gluten, all purpose flour is wheat flour, and that bread is made with wheat flour (no kidding! I’ve come across this level of ignorance in restaurants), you can’t be sure of what you’re getting no matter how well you explain.
Even cooks who understand the basics of gluten in wheat, wheat in bread, many do not think to check ingredients in sauces, soups, thickeners etc. This is not so surprising. Most people, including you (probably) before you had the need for a gluten free diet, are not too worried about minor ingredients in such foods.
Finally, there is cross-contamination, discussed in other articles on this website. This means that gluten from the preparation of other meals in the restaurant may find its way into your meal.
That is what you have to watch out for. In another article, I’ll tell you how to watch out for gluten traps in restaurants, and how to avoid them.
What is your experience in eating gluten-free in restaurants? Do you have celiac disease, a gluten allergy, or do you know yet?