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Restaurant: Gluten-Free Dining Experience
Melissa Bess Reed has been living gluten-free after diagnosed with celiac disease in 1998, and Hashimoto Thyroiditis in 2012. Both autoimmune disorders require a gluten-free diet. Melissa is a CMA via an Associate of Science Degree in Medical Assisting. She graduated top of her class Alpha Beta Kappa, volunteers for Celiac Disease Foundation Team Gluten Free and is an advocate for awareness groups like National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. She has continued on to Law School working on a Juris Doctorate Degree. Melissa has a Harvard Medical School CME Certification for Celiac Disease Gluten-Free Diet Education and a Great Kitchens NFCA Gluten-Free FOH Training Certificate. She is an author of gluten-free cookbooks and has a certified gluten-free line of foods; Gluten Free Lifestyle Series. PHOTO CREDIT: Kelly Segre
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Celiac.com 07/24/2014 - People that have celiac disease know one of the main concerns is avoiding gluten when they have meals. Their second biggest concern is the possible co-mingling of ingredients that can contaminate otherwise gluten-free food! So how do you eat at restaurants when you have celiac and still have peace of mind?
Here is how:
- Before you are to go out to a restaurant call ahead and ask for the manager, find out if they do offer gluten-free meals that are carefully prepared for people with food allergy (If you are unable to call ahead go online and look the restaurant up to see if they offer a gluten-free menu or gluten-free meal selections, if need be email them). Also ask if the restaurant prepares gluten-free meals in a separate area, and if the restaurant uses different cooking utensils for gluten-free meal preparation.
- When you arrive at the restaurant that you have confirmed has gluten-free meals, let your server know you have a "Gluten Allergy" (ok, you can use different terms, and this isn't correct, but it conveys necessity instead of trend) and must eat gluten-free. Ask for a gluten-free menu, if they did not offer one to you. If you feel comfortable ask to speak with the manager or chef at your table, so they know that you have a medical need for a gluten-free diet.
- Let your favorite restaurants know that you want gluten-free meal selections and a gluten-free menu if they do not offer that yet. Do not be afraid to ask! Also, online there are cards you can print out and take to restaurants that you can give to server, manager or chefs to let them know that you are in need of a gluten-free diet.
Some restaurants are now getting trained for gluten-free food preparation through National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and Great Kitchens, so that all the staff is fully prepared and educated on how to handle safe preparation of meals for celiac and gluten intolerant individuals.
Talk about peace of mind; if a restaurant has had the gluten-free food training, know you are safe to eat gluten-free meals there!
As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).