Top tips for eating out gluten free this Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time for socialising and indulging in delicious food with friends and family. It's a time of joy, togetherness, and creating cherished memories but how do you join in the fun without worrying about accidentally eating gluten?  

Eating out at Christmas is an integral part of the festive traditions – whether it’s the work Christmas do, a parents’ group night out or an end of term celebration with university housemates. We’re here to help with our top tips for eating out safely this Christmas. 

How do I find a gluten free restaurant? 

Finding a gluten free venue has never been easier, with our Live Well Gluten Free app or our Venue Guide. You can check if it’s part of Coeliac UK’s Gluten Free (GF) accreditation scheme or has been recommended by others. That way you can have confidence and peace of mind about your food and keep your focus on having a wonderful time instead. Whether you book an accredited or recommended venue or not, don’t forget to let the venue know your dietary requirements when you make the booking. 

A night out planned by someone else? 

Someone else has chosen the venue and you're not sure if they can cater for your gluten free requirements. Don’t panic, caterers must provide information on the allergens in the dishes they serve - it’s the law and most venues are happy to talk through what options may be suitable for your gluten free diet. Many catering establishments will have gluten free options on their menus and procedures in place to cater for people who need a strict gluten free diet. Staff change and over the festive period new staff may be brought in that aren't as aware of dietary needs so even if you have been there before it's always worth calling the restaurant in advance to make sure they understand gluten free ingredients and cross contamination. If they haven’t catered GF before but are willing to learn how, why not send them our catering guidelines

Communicate with the waiting staff

Talk to the waiting staff once you arrive at the restaurant and ask about their gluten free options and what dishes might be suitable. You can ask to confirm the kitchen knows to prepare your food on a freshly cleaned surface with freshly cleaned utensils. Find out if they use a dedicated fryer for gluten free items such as chips or gluten free onion rings. If you’re in any doubt, it’s better to confirm your order before eating as your health is always the priority.

Use this opportunity to raise awareness 

Allow extra time to discuss your needs for a gluten free meal. Enlist the interest and cooperation of your server who will be able to help direct you to identify where to find information about the presence of gluten in dishes. Explaining the seriousness of coeliac disease – that it’s a health condition, not a choice – to those around you (including venues) is a great way to inform people and raise awareness. You can even signpost them to our website to learn more. Also, if you’ve had a great gluten free experience then why not tell them about our GF accreditation scheme? Or share it with us and our gluten free community on social media and be sure to tag the restaurant too so they know they’re doing a great job catering for those who need to eat gluten free. 

Becky Excell is also here to help you to with her tips and advice on how to navigate eating out, look out for her blog coming soon! 

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun! If you haven’t already, why not follow us on social media and sign up to our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing. 

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