Dining out GF–July 2008

Gluten free dining:

One of the most common question I hear from clients is about dining out.  Is it safe?  Where can you go?  How do you KNOW they’re taking our health concerns seriously?

Last month’s newsletter focused on travel, and whether you’re close to home or on a trip, eating out with food restrictions requires some planning for a safe and enjoyable meal.

A good place to start is with a restaurants with a GF menu, or one recommended by others on a gluten free diet.  For the Northern VA area, I’ve just posted a list of places either with a GF menu, or places that will accommodate the GF diet.  For DC, the DC Celiacs group has a great guide through the yahoo group.   Triumph Dining has a good national guide, Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) has a national listing.  Alocal or national list serv is a good place to get great ideas, like the Silly Yak’s Yahoo site, the St John’s Celiac listserv, or the Delphi group.  Or, if you’re gluten and dairy free, GFCF Recipes is a great place to get thoughts.  When you’re traveling some place unfamiliar, you can do a google search for GF blogs, CSA chapters, or ROCK groups.   Or, just choose restaurants more likely to have GF options, like grills, sushi, East Indian and Thai.  If you can, look for a menu online or call ahead.

It’s a good idea to dine early and avoid the dinner rush so restaurants can take the time to understand and meet your needs.  When you arrive, explain your diet simply.  Explaining Celiac as an allergy is easier than a medical discussion, and it’s often better understood.  If you have a dining card, bring that along, too!  Once you’ve figured out a safe entree, make sure you discuss cross contamination, including:

  • changing gloves
  • using a separate cutting board, pans, utensils, etc.
  • a dedicated fryer
  • no glutenous garnishes or rolls!

Make sure that the server understands your needs.  If not, it may be necessary to speak to a manager or chef, or (when possible) to leave.  When your meal arrives, always double check with your server before you begin to eat.

Definitely discuss the diet, even if it’s a place you’ve gone before, and even at a place with a GF menu.  New staff may not be well trained, and menus are ALWAYS changing!  Just because those fries were safe last time doesn’t mean they are safe today.

If you have a good experience, be sure to thank staff and leave a nice tip!  Whether your experience is good or bad, you may consider writing a letter or emailing management.  Feedback is important, and you’re helping yourself and others have a good experience in the future.


So many summer time recipes are naturally gluten free and use the fresh fruits and vegetables in season!  There are a lot of great summertime salads, like fruit salads, bean salads,  or even pasta salads by substituting gluten free pasta.  You can do a sorbet, like this Simple Strawberry Sorbet, and smoothies are easy and perfect for summer.  How about blueberry corn pancakes, a summertime tomato salad, a quinoa black bean salad or an apple mint salad? Also, grilled veggies are a great edition to any cookout.

Here’s a list of summertime favorites from the Gluten Free Goddess, who always has tasty treats.


Survey for parents of children with Celiac Disease:

The American Celiac Disease Alliance has an online survey on the availability of gluten-free lunches for school aged students with Celiac disease. The survey will help ACDA to work with parents so their children can have gluten-free meals during the upcoming (2008-2009) school year.

To complete the survey go to www.americanceliac.org/news.htm and click on `What’s for Lunch?”  The survey will remain open through Sunday, July 20, 2008.

Celiac Awareness Night at the Nationals:

The Washington Nationals and the National Foundation for Celiac Awarenss have partnered for a special game on August 16th.  There are more details here!

Harris Whole Health offers individual sessions, family sessions and group classes to help people eat healthier and feel better! Whether you are dealing with Celiac Disease, food allergies, picky eaters, children on the Autistic spectrum, chronic illness, or if you just want to feel and look better, Cheryl can help you achieve your goals. For an appointment with Cheryl Harris, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, please click here or call 571-271-8742.