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GLUTEN FREE DINING OUT AND TRAVEL
Traveling and dining out can be one of the most challenging parts of the gluten free diet. Being in a foreign city or country and having to rely on someone else preparing the food can be stressful. But with a little preparation and flexibility, you can travel anywhere gluten free.
Dining out Gluten Free:
Before we were diagnosed with Celiac disease, we loved eating out – nearly every Friday you would find us at one of our favorite local restaurants letting some one else cook the meal and serve us. The pleasure of eating out was something that I initially mourned when we went gluten free.
Our First time Eating Out Gluten Free was a Disaster!
The first time we did go out, it was a disaster! We went to a hamburger restaurant during the busy lunch hour at a very busy mall. We were not sure what we were doing and our waiter was even worse. When the food finally did arrive, the GF burger was on a bun. We sent it back. Our daughter who was too self-conscious about the diet at that time was in tears by now. Of course, while we were waiting for the new burger, our other kids gobbled their lunch and were more than ready to leave by the time the Gluten Free Kid's burger arrived. Then she did not like the bunless burger. This was before the gluten free bun, and the hunk of hamburger meat was not appealing to her. So we went home and cooked lunch.
It was months before we went out again but the second time we were armed with information, called before we went to confirm they could prepare a GF meal, picked a gluten free friendly restaurant and went before the dinner rush. Success! We went to Outback Steak house and had a great time; they were so nice that they even gave us complimentary Thunder Down Under desserts.
Eight years into this gluten free diet and we do not eat out as much as we used to. Even though it is much easier to get a gluten free meal, there is still always the chance of cross-contamination. Few restaurants have gluten free kitchens and we have had a number of bad experiences eating at restaurants that even had gluten free menus. We have been served GF pasta that contained a wheat noodle in it, only to find out the GF pasta was cooked in the same water as the wheat pasta.
Once we were in Washington DC on vacation and called the restaurant to see if they could accommodate our diet. The hostess assured us everything would be fine. When we ordered, the waiter assured us he had accommodated the gluten free diet many times. A few minutes later he came back and asked if butter had gluten in it because he could not get an answer out of the kitchen because no one spoke English!
At the same time, we have traveled the world gluten free and had many, many great dining experiences.
Busy Risotteria in NYC
Print the following dining card on card stock. Try a 4 x 6 note card with the beginning instructions on the front of the card and the numbered directions on the back. Then laminate it, fold in half and carry it with you. Use this card whenever you eat out. Don’t assume that because a restaurant has gluten free food, they will necessarily follow all of the precautions listed below.
The following directions also come in handy for friends and family who want to cook for you. Send these directions with your gluten free kid on sleep overs, to summer camp, and to other parents in the class who may be preparing snacks.
Gluten Free Dining Card
I have an illness called Celiac Disease and have to follow a strict Gluten Free Diet. I will become very ill if I eat even a crumb of gluten, so please read the following carefully.
Gluten is found in many food items, but most commonly in flours and grains of wheat (durum, semolina, kamut, spelt), rye, barley and some oats.
Foods that may contain gluten include soy sauce, blue cheese, breading, imitation bacon, marinades, processed meats, soup bases, thickeners, broth, croutons, gravies, imitation seafood, pastas, stuffing's, salad preservatives etc.
Foods that are safe include unseasoned and marinated meats, fruit, veggies, eggs, cheese, milk, rice, corn, soy, potato, bean, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, teff and nut flours,
In addition to being aware of the above ingredients, please take care to make sure my food is not contaminated by other food containing gluten by doing the following:
When we first went gluten free I mourned the fact that we would no longer be able to travel. We actually went camping about one week post diagnosis, and not knowing enough at the time, we starved by only eating grilled hamburger without the bun and yogurt and fruit. At that point in time, I could not comprehend how we would ever fly anywhere again with our restricted diet.
Over time and with confidence, we realized we could travel again. Initially we limited our travel to places with condominiums or apartments so we still had the option of cooking, but we travel now and stay at hotels and dine out for our meals.
Our greatest gluten free trip was toIreland. According to the Ireland Coeliac (how they spell celiac) society, Ireland has one of the highest prevalence of celiac disease in the world, which makes it a very friendly place to travel gluten free.
Cooke's Restaurant Galway Ireland
Breadsticks at Risotteria NYC
Laduree Paris for Macaroons
The hardest place we have traveled to was Germany. Germany is a beautiful country to visit and I hope to go back sometime but I am not that crazy about German food in general - it is a lot of sausage and beer, and our standard fallback of a salad when there is nothing else available ending up being cabbage. Plus the German's were overly concerned about our restrictions to the extent that they would just say "no" to everything. We wondered around Garmisch for hours one night asking every restaurant we passed if they could serve us. Finally, the last restaurant in town thought they could find something gluten free. It ended up being a great night but it was a stressful few hours looking for some place to eat.
Whether you are traveling far or just to Grandma's for Christmas, you will have the best gluten free experience if you spend some time planning before you go.
Before you Go:
1. First we plan our itinerary - Plan what you want to see and where we want to stay.
Call the hotel to see if they can accommodate your diet.
2. Find places to eat gluten free - Plan where you will be driving or flying and approximately where you will be around mealtime. You do not want to have to zig zag across New York to grab lunch. Finally, search the Internet for restaurants with gluten free options.
Before you go, call or email the restaurants to see what they offer, when they are open, and make reservations if necessary. If the area is unfamiliar, you can chart your driving route and map the restaurants on websites such as Google maps.
3. Print a Gluten Free Dining card to hand out at restaurants or to give to friends if you are staying at someone's house.
Taking these steps ahead of time will greatly cut down on the stress level once you arrive.
What to Pack:
We always travel with a suitcase of our favorite gluten free pastas, bagels, muffins etc.
After you eat all of the food, you will have extra room to bring back souvenirs.
Flying Gluten Free:
Several airlines now provide gluten free options.
Share what you learn when you get home:
If you found a great gluten free restaurant in Shenandoah, Iowa then do not keep the place a secret. Share it with the rest of us so we can all learn and enjoy from your experience. I actually started this blog after our first trip to New York City. I spent so much time researching where to eat before our trip that it seemed a waste to keep it all a secret. Send me an email and I will be happy to share your experience or post a review on one of the interactive websites.
|Because LIVING gluten free will not stop you from living the life you choose.|
© Gluten Free Mom 2007 www.glutenfreemom.com