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Peace of mind while dining out

Dining out can be a source of stress for those who suffer with Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance. When eating out, you are at the mercy of the restaurant’s menu, food preparation methods, and sometimes their contaminated equipment. If you have to abandon the security of your safe, contaminant free kitchen, here are some tips that can help you gain some peace of mind while out on the town:

  1. Do your homework. A little planning goes along way and can save you from an unpleasant eating out experience.  If you know what part of town you will be visiting, jump on the Internet ahead of time to locate a restaurant that is Celiac friendly.  Go to www.glutenfreerestaurants.org and search by your city's zip code to find a registered restaurant nearby.
     
  2. Search consumer reviews. See what other consumer’s have to say about your chosen venue. Internet forums like www.celiac.com are very useful tools for identifying safe dining out options.  
     
  3. Request a gluten free menu.  Full menu's for people with food allergies are not always available, but it never hurts to ask.  Ask your waiter or waitress up front for a menu for special diets.  If they do not have a hard copy on hand, they can often print one from their website.  If they do not have a gluten free menu at all, they should be able to help you find something safe to eat from their existing menu.
     
  4. Speak with the manager. Waiters and waitresses may not know what "gluten free" means, but the manager should be trained accordingly. By speaking with the manager, you can ensure that the Chef will know how to appropriately prepare your dish as well as keep it safe along the way.   
     
  5. Never assume.  Not all restaurants are created equal.  A dish that might be safe at one venue may contain wheat at the next. In addition, do not be afraid to ask questions about the ingredients that were used, even if you have asked in the past. They may have changed vendors from the last time you visited.  
     
  6. Pack your medicine.  If you take any medications, such as digestive enzymes that help break down gluten, do not forget to bring these along. In the event that you consume something contaminated, your medicine is vital to reducing the symptoms of that exposure.  

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