As well as finding the foods on a menu that you can eat, there are other proactive steps you must take to make sure you are served a gluten-free meal.
• Let your server know that you are gluten-sensitive and need your meal to be prepared using equipment that is thoroughly cleaned and free of any residual gluten from previous meal preparation. When the service staff is aware of your needs, they can help take every step possible with the chef or cooks to protect you.
• When ordering something you know to be gluten-free, think ahead about its preparation. Naturally, you don’t need to become a chef to do this, but just knowing enough about how foods might be prepared will help you ask the right questions. For example, ask about breading or dusting meats with flour before ordering.
• Always ask questions when necessary to clarify ingredients and preparation methods.
• Never assume a restaurant is familiar with cross-contact issues and knows how to protect your food appropriately.
Cardinal Rules: Try to have an idea how your food is prepared from start to finish and confirm that sterile equipment has been used. Never let your guard down. Ask the server to hold items like the bun and request anything suspicious on-the-side, like salad dressing.
Reality Check: Determining the gluten-free status of any food on a menu depends on your investigative skills and the questions you ask. Even though asking questions of the staff is part of the gluten-free dining routine, frankly speaking, there will be times when you are simply not in the mood for asking detailed questions because they can be tedious and tiresome or you just don’t feel like it. In these cases, it’s important to remember the possible consequences if you don’t follow through with protocol.