Top tips for eating out at Christmas when you’re gluten free

‘Tis the season to socialise and eat, eat, eat! But how do you join in with the merriment without being glutened?

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 Uni housemates. We’re here to help with our top tips for eating out safely on a gluten free diet.

Ho, ho, how do I find a gluten free restaurant?

The local has the best roaring fire, cosy fairy lights and a huge, beautifully decked tree – it’s just so tempting! But hold your horses; why not have a look at Coeliac UK’s Gluten Free on the Move app or our Venue Guide first? 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 holly jolly 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.

Jingle all the way… to an unknown venue

A night out planned by someone you don’t know well – we’ve all been there. You don’t feel you can raise an objection (and if you do, it’s just a tumbleweed moment). You’ve had a search on our venue guide and it’s not coming up. Fear not! Caterers must provide information on the allergens in the dishes they serve. It’s the law! And many eating establishments will have gluten free options on their menus and have kitchen and food handling procedures in place to cater for people who need a strict gluten free diet. So there’s no reason why you can’t eat out if you have coeliac disease, but you can make the experience easier and safer by knowing what to look for.

Last Christmas… they had a gluten free option

The venue’s booked, you located your Christmas jumper, but there’s no gluten free menu in your inbox. Before you send a hasty text to say you can’t come, why not make a quick phone call? Our experience is that most venues are happy to talk through options with their customers. You could ask if they know how to cater for gluten free and whether they can adapt any of the meals. If they haven’t catered before but are willing to learn how, why not send them our catering guidelines.

It's beginning to look a lot like… a boring gluten free selection

Don’t like the gluten free option on the Christmas menu? (We’re looking at you, fruit salad). Give the venue a call and ask if they can adapt something you’re more interested in. If it’s something straightforward, like fish, it shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure they understand about gluten free ingredients and cross contamination. And perhaps cut them some slack with adapting pastry-based meals (even though we all love a pie!).

You don’t have to miss out on pastry this Christmas! We have a number of pastry-based recipes on our Christmas page. Why not try salmon (or vegan) wellington or a mince pie?

Santa Baby… maybe double check their supply first

You’ve found the perfect night out: beautiful venue, great crowd of friends and a large selection of gluten free food! However, it’s worth being aware that some restaurants are currently suffering from supply shortages and may not always have all the gluten free options available as they usually would. It’s always best to ring the venue in advance to check they will have gluten free options available for when you visit.

It’s the most wonderful time… to raise awareness

You’ve planned, made phone calls, been diligent, but you are met with confusion. Gluten free? Yeah, we can do that. My wife recently gave it a go to lose weight. Sigh – we’ve all been there. But rather than get frustrated, why not use this opportunity to raise awareness? 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 spread the word. You can even signpost them to our website to learn more. 

I’m dreaming of a … non glutened Christmas

And most of all, ensure your safety first. If you’re in any doubt that something you want is free from contamination, it’s better to not have it. Your health is always the priority.

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun! We can actually be together with our loved ones this year, so let’s make the most of it.
Check out our Christmas page for loads of other fabulous resources and share this post to your friends! If you haven’t already, why not sign up to our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing? And don’t forget to follow us on social media.

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