It is possible to eat out safely gluten free - here's a way to get started.

Back when I was diagnosed with Celiac in early 2006, the food labelling laws had just changed, so wheat had to be listed if it was in any packaged food, in any form. This didn't take care of barley, rye or oats - but wheat is the largest problem I've run into, so the law made all our lives much easier, at least as far as deciphering food labels. But what to do when trying to eat out? That was by far the largest obstacle I had to overcome, once I was living gluten free. I don't remember how I found it, but something led me to http://www.triumphdining.com/. Once there, I quickly ordered their gluten free dining guide and dining cards, and I'm so glad I did!

This book gave me hope that I really could find a way to eat out gluten free, at least in many places in the US. No, it would not be as easy as it was in many parts of Europe - and it may never be that easy here - but finding safe dining options was possible, thank goodness! This guide helped me tremendously in those early days of maneuvering through a world full of gluten, and I could not have gotten along without their gluten free dining cards. I had the 2006-07 edition but the new improved 2008-09 edition is even better! Even the dining cards have improved, with the addition of French, Greek and Italian options, which were not in the pack I ordered in 2006.

Of course everyone with Celiac knows that eating out is a risk. It's always going to be a risk, but your odds of eating safe meals go up sharply if you at least start by supporting restaurants that know what the word gluten means. That's where the Triumph Dining Guide comes in - it's divided by state, then cities and other ares within each state. It lists restaurants that offer gluten free menus and those that don't have such menus, but do have Chefs that know how to modify some of their dishes to be gluten free. The places listed have Chefs and employees that understand the term 'cross contamination', and that making the slightest mistake with the wrong cooking utensil might make someone sick for a week.

Like any such guide, the information printed was true at the time the book went to press, and could have changed since then. After all, restaurants get bought by new owners, Chefs quit (or get fired) and what's true today isn't always true tomorrow, regarding gluten free knowledge at each place listed in this guide. However, it will at least get you started, in looking for safe places to eat out at, in your corner of the country. For places that offer gluten free menus, the guide even has those printed in a special section in the back of the book! It lists websites when available, phone numbers and addresses. All you have to do is call to verify this info is still valid before showing up to eat there. And sure, you'll occasionally find places that might not should be listed in the book - like Johnny Carino's -who know nothing of gluten (at least in the Atlanta market). But much more often than not, the places listed in this guide are there for a reason. They deserved to be there because they are trying to safely accommodate gluten free diners. It makes good business sense to do so, since most places report their business increases from 5-10%, once they start offering gluten free meals.

If you don't already have this dining guide, and you are unsure of how to eat out safely, this might help you take that first step towards eating out gluten free. No matter how many times people tell you eating out safely is not possible, that is simply not true. It's hard to learn how to do it - just like it was hard to learn how to eat safely at home gluten free. However, it can be done - if you just put your mind to it, and use the tools available to you, which can point you in the right direction. Remember, the more of us going out asking for gluten free meals there are, the better off our entire community will be.

And please keep in mind that this dining guide can not possibly list every safe place in the US we can eat. That list changes daily, after all. Each month we are adding new places that we feel are safe to eat at in the Metro Atlanta market. I'm sure other cities are doing the same, more so when the gluten free community is rather large, as it is here. If you find a great place in your town that isn't in the Triumph Dining Guide - I'm sure they'd love to know about it!

Comments

  1. Another great resource is www.glutenfreeregistry.com they offer a free searchable website that lists gluten-free friendly restaurants, bakeries and more...

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  2. Yes, there are many sites like that. And those are great if you are looking for chains with gluten free menus. Personally I've found such places to be questionable places to eat, since it's rare you find anyone working there who knows what gluten actually is. Sites like www.glutenfreepassport.com offer much more varied options, for those who are looking for a dining experience, rather than a boring chain that may or may not feed them safely.

    What's great about the Triumph Dining Guide is that it teaches a 'newbie' how to ask all the right questions, when they are learning how to eat out gluten free. Just like the diet is hard to learn, so is learning to eat out safely. This book helps build confidence in the diner, which is very important. Unfortunately, they usually can't rely on the staff to know as much about gluten as they do.

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  3. This is a great book! I also like their dining cards. They are so helpful for wait staff that don't really get what "gluten free" really means.

    karen
    http://glutenfreefoodreviews.com

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  4. There is some really great information here. I have been Gluten Free for many years now and my life hase completely changed. And for a while I was afraid to dine out but now after years of conversations with many restaurant managers and some great Chefs I learned that it is all about communication with the wait staff and knowing the correct places to eat!

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  5. Thanks Chris! You hit the nail on the head - it is exactly about communication. I met a couple of people at a gf event recently (where I was selling the Triumph Dining products) who told me they just order plain rice and chicken when dining out and still get sick. They don't mention they can't eat gluten to anyone at the restaurants. Gluten can be in chicken stock used to cook the rice and some lower end chains get chicken with wheatstarch already in it. Therefore you can't just order rice and chicken and be assured a safe meal. If one can't stick up for themselves and ask for what they need, it's best they stay home - for their health's sake.

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