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Out & About With Celiac

Nutrition, From Our Kitchen

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A Celiac or food allergy diagnosis makes it hard enough to eat at home, let alone eating out. That is a whole other obstacle to tackle.

Celiac disease isn't something to play around with. Taking chances with what you eat, can make you very sick. With the number of gluten free options available in supermarkets on the rise, more and more restaurants are recognizing the need to add gluten free options to menus.

May is Celiac Awareness Month, and this week SAGE President & Founder Paco Rodriguez takes on the role of Guest Blogger. Here’s his take on enjoying life and eating out with Celiac.

Eating Out With Celiac Disease

The biggest challenge for those of us with Celiac Disease is finding something to eat away from home. By and large, the fast food industry has nothing to offer us. One exception is Taco Bell, where the lowly hard shell tacos won’t get you sick. Another exception is Five Guys Burgers and Fries, where they’ll make you a burger without the bun and take plenty of precautions against cross contamination.

Fortunately, the casual dining restaurants have gotten the clue that families with a gluten free member won’t patronize a place if one of their party can’t eat anything. Today, most chains have gluten free menus. Three years ago, this was definitely not the case.

Not all gluten free menus are created equal. Take the example of Pizzeria Uno and Bertucci’s Pizza. At Pizzeria Uno, the gluten free menu, while short, includes–get this–gluten free pizza. It’s actually pretty good. It also features a hamburger on a gluten free bun–that’s a rarity. Most places give you a burger with no bun. Uno’s even has gluten free beer if you’re old enough. Bertucci’s, on the other hand, has a pretty extensive menu of gluten free choices, but no pizza. The selections are from the rest of the menu items at this Italian themed chain, frequently with an ingredient removed. For example, you can have the salad, but no croutons; order the polenta without the bread crumbs, etc.

Fine dining restaurants seem to have always been better prepared to deal with gluten free. The chefs and wait staffs seem better educated and they usually offer to take special care of you. Of course, this special service comes at a price.

Cross contamination can still be an issue. I’ve twice become ill after eating at a well known Napa Valley restaurant that I really like–even after asking about my selection. I’ve gone back and spoken to them, but it happened again. Sometimes, the kitchens are too small and too hectic to really protect their gluten sensitive customers (imagine if this was the type of an allergy with the risk of anaphylactic shock!). I guess I won’t be going back a third time.

It’s easier to eat gluten free at home, but the restaurant scene is slowly getting better.

For more on Celiac awareness and treatment options click here.

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Made in the Shade

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At Home With Celiac

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