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.