Challenges of Eating Out with Celiac Disease
Eating out with celiac disease can be a challenge for those with the condition. Although efforts are made to accommodate their needs, but sometimes errors occur and oversights are made. The complaints we hear from restaurant patrons with celiac disease and gluten-related disorders are often of similar nature.
“I was in the middle of eating my salad at a restaurant and discovered crouton crumbs. And this was after I specifically asked the staff to make a fresh salad without croutons. “
“The restaurant advertised gluten-free wings. Unfortunately, after I ate them I discovered they’re fried in the same fryer with onion rings and chicken nuggets.”
“The restaurant personnel seemed so nice and knowledgeable. They prepared me a beautiful meal, but then placed a slice of bread on the plate before serving it.”
“The restaurant offered gluten-free pizza, but I was able to watch the person making it. They did not change their gloves, and made it in the same area as the regular pizza and used the same toppings.”
Understanding Your Guests with Celiac Disease
Understanding your guests’ concerns and needs is a good step towards a happy customer. Diane Moyer, MS, RDN, who is a staff dietitian at On The Menu, also runs a private practice specializing in aiding patients with celiac disease and allergens. One major area of concern for her patients is eating out with celiac disease. She gives them to following advice.
- Do your research before walking in the door. Check out the restaurant ahead by calling or going to their website. Find out if they have gluten-free options. There are several gluten-free restaurant mobile phone apps available that are good resources, such as iEatOut Gluten & Allergen Free and Is That Gluten Free? Eating Out.
- Let your server know of your need for a gluten-free meal. It can be helpful to provide a “restaurant card” to your server. You might want to emphasize your level of sensitivity to gluten and the importance of avoiding it.
- Ask your server how they handle gluten-free meal requests. Find out how thorough the restaurant researched gluten in ingredients and recipes. Learn their methods for avoiding cross contact in restaurant foods. Ask if they used professionals, such as On The Menu, to research and develop the gluten-free menu and train the staff in serving and preparing gluten-free meals.
- Provide immediate feedback. Let the server know of your experience, good or bad, so they can either continue the excellent service or make improvements.
Prepare to Serve Restaurant Guests with Celiac Disease
Knowing what your customers with celiac disease go through in order to dine out may better prepare you for serving them. Give them assurance that you can meet their needs by doing the necessary ingredient and recipe research, taking precautions to safely prepare and serve the food, and training your staff to meet your customers’ needs. At On The Menu, we have our TAG Dining System™, a very thorough and complete system that can help you through the process. Please contact your Denver nutrition consultants for more information. We’re here to help.