A lot of individuals find simple delight in dining out with friends and families. However, for people with celiac disease, eating in a restaurant can be a troublesome experience. The simple act of browsing through the menu becomes a serious challenge because they are only allowed to eat gluten-free meals to avoid the symptoms of the disease. However, the simple pleasure of eating out and ordering off the menu should no longer be a challenge for celiac patients. Today, there are already a good number of gluten-free restaurants in the country that cater to the needs of people suffering from gluten intolerance. These restaurants not only help celiac victims enjoy dining out, but also improve their adherence to gluten-free diet and ultimately improve the social aspect of their life.
In the United States, no less than 150 million individuals eat out on a typical day. This number is still expected to grow, however, as more and more consumers find eating away from home more convenient than having to shop for ingredients and do all the hassles of preparing and cooking at home. People with celiac disease belong to the millions of people who dine out, but have the extra challenge of adhering to a strict gluten-free diet while eating in their favorite fast food or restaurant. But, this is not the only challenge. Aside from the fact that their food must be gluten free, everything that they order must also be free from any contamination from gluten-containing foods. Celiac patients are very sensitive to gluten and hence, devote so much time learning about their diet. When they eat in a restaurant, they still have the job of conveying their dietary needs to the restaurant crew so they can successfully receive a meal that is completely gluten free and contamination free.
Fortunately for celiac sufferers, the National Restaurant Association has observed an increased trend in the awareness of celiac disease in the last couple of years and now works even harder to equip restaurant owners and employees with knowledge on food allergens and intolerances. It has developed training guides and instructions to educate restaurants on matters of food preparation and safety, food allergens, and intolerances. More restaurants are now offering gluten-free menus to celiac customers who want to enjoy eating out to the last bite.
According to the Health and Safety Regulatory Affairs for the National Restaurant Association, it is extremely important for a guest with celiac disease to explain to the restaurant crew his or her intolerance to gluten. It’s important for gluten-free restaurants, on the other hand, to be straightforward about ingredients and to ensure that their guests only get what is appropriate for their condition. The organization encourages celiac patients to open up and speak to the restaurant manager who will then let the staff in the back of the kitchen know what should be avoided during food preparation. The organization also highlights the importance of reading the ingredients of each item in the menu and helping their guests find the perfect meal for them.
Another good thing working for celiac victims is the enactment of the law called The Food Allergen and Consumer Protection Act in January 2006. According to this law, “If a manufacturer uses any of the top eight allergens, namely milk, egg, peanut, shell fish, fish, soybean, tree nuts, and wheat, the ingredient must be identified on the label in plain English. Although the law is not applicable to the foods served in fast food chains and restaurants, it is applicable to the packaged ingredients used by that restaurant. The restaurant server can read the labels of the pre-made mashed potatoes, for example, so the guest can see if wheat has been used. Note though that the law only includes wheat, not barley or rye. Again, communication is important when dining in gluten-free restaurants.
So, in general, what are the food/menu terms in a restaurant that may suggest that wheat is present? Here’s a list of terms that celiac patients may need to double check with the restaurant crew: Cordon bleu, fricassee, gnocchi, marinade, soy sauce, encrusted, raspings, roux, tempura, fritter, dust, béchamel, pan gravy, farfel, and scaloppini, among others.
Today, the awareness about celiac disease has tremendously grown. As a result, more and more gluten-free restaurants are being established and more and more traditional restaurants are incorporating gluten-free meals in their menu. What’s more, everyone is now more careful with food preparation to ensure that celiac patients only get a gluten-free food. Now, victims of celiac disease need not trouble themselves when ordering off the menu. By simply visiting a specialty gluten-free restaurant, talking to the restaurant crew, or reading menu labels and terms, he or she can already be sure that what he or she is getting will not cause his or her celiac symptoms to reoccur after eating.