- If you are planning to go out to eat somewhere with friends but you don’t know what or how to order, go to that place by yourself or with a parent a few days in advance. Pick one or two things off the menu that you know will be safe for you to order, and stick with those. It won’t be perfect, but you’ll be able to eat with your friends without having to worry. After a few months, you may find you are going to the same places and you’ll feel comfortable eating there.
- If you go out to eat sushi but you’re not sure if there will be gluten-free soy sauce available, bring travel sized gluten-free soy sauce packs with you. They are easy to carry and keep with you.
- Salad bar restaurants are usually good bets, however, watch out for croutons and granola as these may contain gluten. Do not order these if you’re not sure. Also ask that they put on new gloves when preparing your order to avoid cross-contact with gluten.
- Be persistent. Just because someone says their restaurant isn’t gluten-free does not mean there aren’t things on the menu you can eat there. Many people do not understand what “gluten-free” means, so they tell you they can’t comply. Don’t give up right away. Find a few things on the menu that don’t contain gluten ingredients and ask them if they are able to prepare them gluten-free, ie, leave off the sauce, don’t bread the chicken before cooking, and cook steak, etc. on a clean grill.
- For french fries, make sure to ask if they are fried in the same oil as breaded foods! To stay safe any fried food has to be fried in clean oil free of cross-contact with gluten. Most restaurants fry battered and breaded foods in their fryolators making it a hazard for those with celiac disease.
- Toaster travel tip: Purchase your own, inexpensive, small toaster so making toast or bagels on vacation is worry-free. You can travel with a gluten-free loaf of bread or bag of bagels in a small box in your suitcase. Alternatively, you can purchase toaster sleeves to use in any gluten-contaminated toaster, whether this is at a friend’s house, hotel, or school.
- Will you be staying in hotels for class trips, sports tournaments, or tours abroad where meals will be provided for you? It helps to call ahead to let them know you eat gluten-free and ask for a menu to be sent ahead of time. Also, let them known you may be bringing outside food to substitute meals you cannot eat on their menu.
Kira Schlieman is a sophomore in high school in Silicon Valley, California. She was diagnosed with celiac disease at three years old, and has navigated the health and social challenges that come with it. Kira does not let celiac disease get in the way of doing the things that she loves, such as surfing, running, and spending time with her friends and family. Kira’s experiences with growing up celiac motivate her share them with others. She is passionate about helping people, and inspiring them to stay positive.