Wheat-free eating in restaurants can be a trail, or it can be very easy. It depends on the restaurant, the menu, and how well trained the staff is.
If you have a wheat allergy, a gluten allergy, or are celiac, your health and well-being depends on making sure that the restaurant food you eat is completely wheat-free (or gluten-free if you have celiac disease or have a gluten allergy).
If you are on a gluten free diet, then avoiding wheat is only part of the story.
On the other hand, asking for a gluten-free meal can be very helpful if you are avoiding wheat, because more people have heard of a gluten-free diet, and are more likely to accommodate you.
If I tell the server that I can not eat wheat, and they mention a gluten free diet, then I know they get it, and do not explain the finer points of wheat vs. gluten.
Not everyone who works in a restaurant knows all that much about food. Even the chef can be clueless about food ingredients and origins, even if they do produce tasty dishes.
I’ve told servers in restaurants that I am allergic to wheat, and have been told “no problem, we only use all-purpose flour.”
A response like that tells you to leave the restaurant. Trying to explain the ins and outs of wheat-free food do someone like that may work, but it may not. You can’t afford to take the risk.
When you are asking questions about what you can eat in a restaurant, keep in mind that you may or may not be talking to an expert. One of your goals is to determine if the person you are talking to knows anything about food. You also need to work out if you and the server or chef really understand each-other.
Some people want to give the right answer, even if they don’t understand the question. If their goal is that you eat at their restaurant, the right answer for them is often “yes”. For example: -“is this safe for me to eat?” -“yes!”. Is it really?
Some restaurants serve a menu that is easier to accommodate your allergies, others have a more challenging menu. For example, I am allergic to wheat. If I see a menu with mostly sandwiches and pizza, I walk out. I know I will do well in an Asian restaurant though, as long as I am careful about what I order.
More and more restaurants have a special gluten-free menu. This is a big help, and a big clue that the ‘get it’.
What are your experiences with eating wheat-free at restaurants?