Yes you can go out to eat!

The ease with which a celiac or gluten-intolerant person can go out to eat depends on one major factor: location. Obviously it's going to be a lot easier to find a gluten-free-friendly restaurant in a major city than in rural Florida.

That being said, there are plenty of national restaurants with gluten-free menus. Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill are just a couple of examples.

If there's one local restaurant you just can't bear to let go of, though, it takes a little more work to ensure you have a truly gluten-free experience. That means being picky and speaking up. No one wants to feel like a difficult customer, but once the establishment realizes how important food is to your health, most restaurants are more than willing to help out.

In her book The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten Free Jules Dowler Shepard offers these tips for dining out with safely:


1. "Try to eat early or late so that you're avoiding rush hours when managers and chefs haev the least time to pay attention to your needs. Also, whenever possible, dine at restaurants that make their food from scratch."

2. "Understand the limitations of larger resturants and fast-food chains. They work with premade sauces and ingredients, have line cooks, usually have unseasoned staff, and cross contamination is often hard to avoid."

3. "When possible, call ahead during less busy times and ask questions about the menu and alert the chef of your needs...Establish a relationship with the manager or owner of a few restaurants you particularly enjoy."

4. "Double-check about the fryer. Restaurants often often have only one fryer, and once your french fries have been deep-fried in the oil they used to fry the chicken nuggets, your fries are no longer gluten-free."

5. Ask that any grilled food be prepared in aluminum foil to avoid cross contamination.

6. Avoid cafeterias!