Take the worry out of eating out with our top tips!

More and more places to eat out are now offering Gluten Free choices. Hooray!
The catering industry are heading in the right direction.
The reassurance that somewhere will be a safe place to eat is so important.
We eat out in a variety of mixed facility restaurants/cafes. And have had lots of lovely meals.

In general we know things are looking good when….
😅They aren’t phased when you mention the word coeliac (and show an understanding of coeliac requirements.)
😀They offer a gluten free menu….with a good number of choices.
🤩The manager/serving staff are clear which is the GF option when the food is brought out.
😇If they label the food then this is a double thumbs up!

Sadly not everywhere we go is as organised or really understands the importance of cross-contamination so unfortunately my mum and daughter have both been
Even if restaurants offer gluten free they are not necessarily as clued up on cross contamination.
This is where I feel there is still some way to go for eateries across the board. They must be clear that it’s not just providing a gluten free meal but understand the importance of avoiding cross-contamination when cooking and serving.
A delicious GF roast dinner with GF gravy was spoilt because the cauliflower cheese served with the roasts was not GF but no-one told us!  The same cake slice being used on gluten free and non gluten free cakes. Aaaah!😭 Simple labelling not just of the cakes but the serving slices too could avoid this! 
As for two coeliacs eating out in one group. Our experiences with my mum and daughter have been varied. 
Even in some lovely restaurants it seems to cause chaos. 
I’m not sure the kitchens believe there are two coeliacs in one group!
Despite the mix ups they’ve suffered this does not stop us from eating out. We just make sure we ask questions, check and double check.
We know it can be a worrying experience when you are newly diagnosed or when trying somewhere new so here’s our tips based on our own experiences.

Top tips for eating out

1.Phone or email beforehand if possible to check they cater for coeliacs /gluten intolerances.
Ask them to email their gluten free menu/choices to ensure a variety or you maybe left with salad (again!)
This tip is especially important if you are going out in a bigger group with family, work colleagues etc.
2. Tell them you are a coeliac. So they know straight away it’s not a fad diet/life choice.
Ask if they cater for coeliacs.
If they reply knowingly you could be in for a good meal.
If they seem uncertain I would personally turn and walk away.
3. Ask if they have a gluten free menu (hopefully they will have reached for it when you say you are a coeliac)
They may have one menu with gluten free dishes labelled or they may tell you by looking through the menu with you. 
Not everywhere has a separate menu so don’t panic.
There are some lovely smaller restaurants that won’t necessarily have a separate menu but will clearly demonstrate they understand coeliacs’ needs.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. 
You are not making a fuss or making it harder for anybody.
You are a paying customer and it’s their business to cater for you!
If somewhere says no they can’t cater for you then it’s definitely not best for you!
5. Double check the chips! Do they use a separate fryer?
If they cook other things such as onion rings in the same one then this is cross contamination and they become unsuitable for Coeliacs.
Quite a few places now have dedicated fryers for chips.
My mum likes to go back to the same Beefeater pub as she knows she can rely on them to tell her of any changes such as when one fryer broke down they made sure my mum knew the chips were not suitable for her that day. Hoorah!
6. Are they using separate utensils? Is the gluten and non gluten food sitting next to each other?
This has happened in a number of cafes we’ve visited….same cake slice for gluten and non gluten cakes and even gluten and non gluten cakes on the same display tray. Big sigh!
7. Check when the food comes out. 
If they don’t specifically say and it doesn’t have a flag or label on it, check it is the gluten free meal.
On a number of occasions we found the waiting staff have either not been told or forgotten.
My daughter was served a starter that had bread but my dad was also having the same starter when hers came out first we double checked it was gluten free bread, the waiter wasn’t sure so asked…. low and behold that was not the one for my daughter. 
And that incident was in a lovely restaurant in the New Forest.
If something looks like it shouldn’t be there check.
When a yorkshire pudding appeared on my mum’s roast dinner…guess what it wasn’t gluten free…back to the kitchen!
No matter where we go it’s routine to ask questions and check.
The more the word is spread about being a Coeliac or gluten intolerances, the more restaurants will sit up and take notice.
I know for my mum and daughter being a coeliac doesn't stop them eating out. As a family we think carefully about where we go but this has also made us try new places and a wider variety of foods. And we are looking forward to trying many more!
Happy eating out!!
Delicious GF Beef Burger at Honest Burger South Kensington (2019)      
Delicious GF Beef Bruger at Honest Burger South Kensington
Fluffy GF Pancakes from Stakks Southampton 2019 
Fluffy GF Pancakes at Stakks Southampton 2019

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