La Crosse Area Celiacs Celiacs helping Celiacs...Serving the La Crosse Area
A support group for people with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis in the La Crosse, Wisconsin Area.

Tips for Celiacs

Always check ingredients. Products that don't seem like they would contain gluten may contain it. Many standard rice and corn cereals contain malt. There are organic cereals instead, that use less additives and may be safe.

Companies change ingredients. You may have eaten a product hundreds of times and feel safe with it. However, a company can change the ingredients without notice and it could now contain gluten.

Organic doesn't mean gluten-free. Wheat, rye and barley are organic products, so just because something is organic, it isn't necessarily gluten-free. Check the ingredients on these products too.

Try heating it up. Many gluten free foods (especially breads) taste better when heated or toasted.

Vegetarians: watch the gelatin. Since gluten acts as a binding element in foods, it may be replaced in gluten-free flours by xanthum gum, guar gum or gelatin to give gluten-free foods elasticity. Gelatin is often not a vegetarian product.

Restaurants may re-use their oils. After a restaurant uses an oil to cook onion rings, chicken fingers, etc, they may re-use the same oil to fry other items such as tortilla chips. Make sure to ask if the oil was ever used to cook gluten containing foods, not just if it was cooked in the same vat.

Make a trade. When your salad comes out with croutons and you ask for a new one, keep the original salad so the restaurant doesn't just remove the croutons and bring it back to you. When the new salad comes out, trade the one with croutons for the one without. The same rule applies if you order items such as a sandwich or a hamburger without the bread. Some restaurants have been known to just remove the bread and bring the same one back to you.

Call ahead. When making a reservation at a restaurant or when going to a banquet like a wedding, call ahead and alert the chef or manager that you will be coming and will need a gluten-free meal. This will give them time to do some research, ask questions, and prepare something for you with less risk of contamination.

Take a dining card. When dining out on the spur of the moment or going to a restaurant where you're not comfortable with the staff's understanding of Celiac Disease, take along a dining card. These explain gluten and where it is found (some even come in other languages for international dining). Give this to the waiter or waitress who can consult with the manager or chef to help you choose a meal that is safe. It is also helpful to tell the host or hostess of your dietary needs before you are seated so he or she can tell you if the restaurant can accommodate you.

Go when it's not busy. When the wait staff and the cooks are busy, they may be less careful to avoid cross contamination or look into all of the ingredients. You may also have less selection because the restaurant staff won't have the time to research what foods are safe.

Bring your own. Many restaurants will allow you to bring your own bread and some may even cook your own gluten free pasta for you. Make sure they use a fresh pot and fresh water to cook it. This theory applies to home parties too. Talk to the host ahead of time to let them know about your sensitivity to gluten. If the menu does not appear to be gluten-free, consider eating before you arrive.

Flour coating. Some meats, like chicken, and other foods at restaurants are lightly coated in flour before they are cooked. Ask the cook before ordering to make sure your items are not coated.

Cheer up, you're not alone. While it may seem like the whole world is eating your favorite gluten containing foods right in front of you, the good news is that you're not alone. Celiac Disease affects 1 in 133 people.

La Crosse Area Celiacs | Phone: 608-787-8038 | Email:
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