It can be very easy to fall into the trap of seeing the on the disadvantages of following a gluten free diet. This frequently happens when you are eating out – especially with friends or family who have no dietary restrictions. However, sometimes you can find that being on a special diet can pay off with huge advantages.
Recently, a good friend shared the story of her last business trip. She was at a conference where attendees were asked to choose lunch and dinner from a rather limited menu. Everyone was complaining about the lack of choice. She had notified the conference organizers about her need to follow a gluten free diet in advance and this worked out to be a wonderful plus. She was invited to choose from her own special menu.
The lunch menu listed no dessert she could eat. A quick word with the kitchen staff produced something much more exciting than fresh fruit as an alternative. At each meal she was served a “special creation.” Each one was more interesting than the last, and garnered oohs and ahhs from her tablemates. Each dessert was of such generous proportions that everyone was pleased to share in the bounty. The “regular” meals and desserts seemed downright boring next to her special meals!
Yes, it’s hard to deal with the issue of being “different.” But sometimes that difference can lead to an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience rather than being negative.
Here are a few ideas to ensure you get excellent service and appropriate meals from a restaurant:
- Talk to the staff and make your dietary needs known when you arrive
- Smile and request rather than demand
- Explain what being gluten free is – what you can and cannot eat
If you are served something inappropriate (and it will happen!) politely explain that what is on your plate will make you very sick. Ask nicely for the staff to completely replace your meal with something safe. An example of this is if you are served a sorbet with a cookie stuck in the top. A quiet word with the waiter should get you an entirely new dessert, rather than just having the cookie removed and the crumbs left behind.
Go out of your way to be gracious and always thank people for their help. If you are pleasant to the servers, they will be that much more likely to go that extra mile for you. Plus, you should receive great service if you eat there again and you will be helping the next gluten free person who walks through the door.