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Dec 2023

Surviving Restaurants: A Guide to Gluten-Free Dining

As people with dietary restrictions know all too well, eating out can be an absolute minefield.

For Celiacs and gluten-free diners, it's not just about avoiding bread and pasta; gluten lurks in a myriad of unexpected places from sauces to salad dressings.

If you've just been diagnosed with Celiac disease or perhaps you're trying out a new gluten-free diet, figuring out how to socialise in restaurants can be tricky.

Read on to find out how you can keep enjoying eating out whilst staying safe with our simple rules.

1. Do Your Homework

Before you decide on a restaurant, make sure to check out their menu online. Most establishments provide menus on their websites, along with allergen information.

Some even have separate gluten-free menus which can make your decision even easier. Websites like Eating Gluten Free can be a great resource in choosing restaurants that cater to gluten-free needs.

Here at LoveLife, we're proud that the majority of our Mediterranean-inspired menu has gluten-free options. We want to accommodate as many people as possible, leaving everyone feeling welcome.

Be sure to try our hearty gluten-free Full Mediterranean Breakfast with your choice of deli sausage, poached eggs, stuffed mushroom, confit tomatoes, patatas bravas and smoked paprika cannellini.

2. Communicate Your Needs Clearly

Let your waiter know about your dietary requirements at the very beginning. Not only is it crucial for your health, but it also helps them know how to serve you best.

Remember, just because a dish is 'wheat-free' does not automatically make it gluten-free. Don't hesitate to ask them to verify with the chefs. Your safety is paramount.

Dark ceramic bowl with grains & a wooden spoon inside.

3. Beware of Hidden Gluten

Gluten can lurk in various food items and condiments that might not immediately come to mind.

While it is commonly known that baked goods like breads and pastries contain gluten, there are numerous other unsuspecting culprits as well. 

Soy sauce, for instance, often holds hidden traces of gluten due to the use of wheat during its fermentation process. This can catch many diners off guard who assume soy sauce would be safe. Similarly, salad dressings can sometimes be packed with sneaky sources of gluten such as malt vinegar or modified food starch derived from wheat.

Beyond the realm of sauces and dressings lie certain alcoholic drinks that could potentially pose a threat to those avoiding gluten. 

Some beers are brewed using grains containing gluten or undergo processes involving cross-contamination with these grains during production. These beers may unknowingly become part of an individual's meal when dining out if they're not cautious about their choices.

Did you know there are even some meats that can have hidden amounts of gluten? Certain processed meats might include fillers or additives containing wheat derivatives which serve as binders or flavor enhancers. 

Are you starting to see why it's more important than ever to choose your restaurant carefully or make sure the staff are accommodating to your dietary needs?

4. Understand the Risk of Cross-Contamination

Even if the ingredients in your chosen dish are gluten-free, there's a risk of cross-contamination from shared kitchen utensils or surfaces. 

Restaurants that offer gluten-free options but aren't exclusively gluten-free can't always guarantee a 100% gluten-free environment. Depending on the severity of your Celiac disease, it is important to ask the waiter about their cross-contamination precautions to avoid any health problems. 

Don’t feel awkward or worry about ‘making a scene’, your health is a priority and no restaurant wants their patrons to get sick!

Various grains in clear plastic packaging.

5. Plan Ahead

Calling ahead is especially important when dining at high-end restaurants or establishments that may not have a dedicated gluten-free menu. By taking the initiative to discuss your dietary needs in advance, you can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable dining experience. 

Not only does this help alleviate any stress or anxiety associated with finding suitable options on the spot, but it also allows the restaurant to prepare for your visit and accommodate your specific requirements.

Planning also offers you an opportunity to inquire about potential gluten-free alternatives or modifications they might be able to offer. Some restaurants are well-versed in providing customised dishes for their guests, ensuring that even those following a strict gluten-free diet can savour delicious meals without compromising taste or quality.

Personally, I know when the restaurant is happy to talk me through how they accommodate dietary requirements, I feel a lot more confident about going for a meal. 

It shows the establishment's dedication towards meeting customer needs while allowing you as a diner to feel valued and cared for throughout your dining experience.

So, before heading out for an evening of culinary delight at a restaurant or any place where catering explicitly toward gluten-free customers may not be their speciality, take a moment to pick up the phone and give them notice of your dietary requirements. 


Eating gluten-free at restaurants can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be daunting or stressful, especially if you head to a restaurant like LoveLife where there are delicious gluten-free dishes to enjoy. By being prepared, knowing what questions to ask and understanding the potential risks, you can navigate the often confusing path to a satisfying, gluten-free meal and keep yourself feeling tip-top.

Always remember that you have every right to enquire and ensure that your food caters to your dietary needs. Here's to the joy of dining out, gluten-free style!

Happy eating!

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