• Gluten Free Queen

I can't believe it's not gluten

I was so pleased when the first few Italian chain restaurants started serving

gluten free pizzas.

At last there was somewhere for my daughter and I to eat. We were both diagnosed with coeliac disease five years ago and at the time found it difficult to eat out. Other restaurants soon followed the Italian example with gluten free pasta and even desserts.

Some of these restaurants have accreditation from Coeliac UK so we trust them whole-heartedly, but should we? My daughter ate at one of the popular Italian chains a few weeks ago and was violently ill afterwards. Her reaction was so bad that the pizza base must have contained gluten, but luckily she made it home in

time. After a bit of research I found many stories of other coeliacs having similar experiences in chain restaurants.

Being served the wrong pizza base is one of the many situations where you can

get caught out. I'm always impressed when a restaurant or cafe has separate

utensils for gluten free food. However, when I recently visited a seaside teashop

the only gluten free cake was tightly pressed between cakes made with wheat. I

saw the same situation in Starbucks this week, as seen in this photo, but you can

ask for a wrapped brownie that will be free from contamination.

The new legislation requiring restaurants to label gluten as an allergen has made

a big difference, although sometimes we are given the dreaded allergen folder.

This happened to me when I was with two very hungry open water swimmers.


ust about everything on the menu came with chips, but there were a few things

listed as gluten free. I was a bit suspicious, partly because of the content and the

appearance of the folder, so I asked the waitress if the chef cooks the breaded

items with the chips and of course the answer was yes. We then faced an hour

journey home on an empty stomach.

Everyone enjoys eating out at a restaurant, however if you do not trust the gluten

free there is the option of avoiding this. There are other times where coeliacs do

not have a choice when eating out, such as when out travelling or when with a

group who all insist on going to their favourite chain restaurant. How can we trust

in those cooking and serving food for us after getting caught out before? I always

make it clear that I am a coeliac and will become ill when eating gluten as well as

double-checking that the food put in front of me is gluten free. Most servers are

understanding and put in the extra effort for food allergies. Once I asked a chef if

he could wash all the utensils on the carvery for me and he was very happy to do


The safest restaurants are run by coeliacs who fully understand what is and is

not gluten free. Nevertheless things are improving all the time and I think

eventually all restaurants will be more aware of coeliac disease.

How do you know if you can trust a restaurant? Do you avoid eating out

completely after a bad experience? Comment below with your tips on how to find

a trustworthy gluten free restaurant.

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