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How to Dine Out Safely with a Celiac Child

Updated on January 26, 2013


Celiac is an autoimmune disease that is also called celiac sprue. It is most likely an inherited disease though this has not been proven one hundred percent. People with celiac cannot tolerate, nor eat, anything with gluten in it. Gluten is a protein found in so many things I don't have time to list them here, but, the main culprit is wheat. Celiac disease symptoms vary from person to person and can include; gas, diarrhea, fatigue, itchy skin rash, joint pain, poor weight gain, and others. Symptoms may be mild or severe which often makes it difficult to diagnose. Children who have a parent with celiac or have Type 1 diabetes or down syndrome are more likely to develop celiac.

The only treatment for celiac disease is to remove gluten from the diet. While it is a difficult disease for adults to live with it is especially difficult for children. Imagine being at a birthday party when everyone else is eating cupcakes or birthday cake...and you can't! A gluten free diet for children is more than difficult, it is inconvenient and often makes children feel 'different', but it must be done. Fortunately more and more gluten free food is available.


Does this restaurant look familiar?  It will if you ever watched Seinfeld.
Does this restaurant look familiar? It will if you ever watched Seinfeld. | Source

Good old hamburger!


Eating Out With Celiac

Before you can eat out with your child, it is important to know what the celiac diet is made up of. Its tough, especially for children. You must avoid wheat, barley, rye, and even oats due to the processing of oats. Very often children, and adults, with celiac develop an intolerance to lactose so dairy may be on the forbidden list as well. While eating out may sound somewhat easy at first glance, it can actually be very difficult . The child with celiac cannot have any of the things mentioned but the hard part is, some of the 'allowed' foods are cooked with foods that are NOT allowed thereby contaminating them and making them not allowed. Did you follow that? For example, a child with celiac cannot eat french fries that were cooked in the same oil as bread coated chicken or fish because the bread coating can stick to the french fries. It is hard to understand if you don't have celiac but sometimes just one crumb can trigger symptoms and serious health problems.

What to do? First, look for restaurants that provide gluten free options. Thankfully there are more and more of them available. Thanks to the Internet, the search is easier now than in the past. Look for restaurants that have separate gluten free menus. For example, 99 Restaurants have gluten free hamburger buns. They do not have gluten free french fries but will substitute potato chips. Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse has a gluten free menu. Another chain offering gluten free is California Pizza Kitchen. Note, however, they do not have gluten free pizza.

Another place is Cheeseburger in Paradise. They have both gluten free hamburger buns and gluten free french fries! Kona Grill has a gluten free menu as does the Old Spaghetti Factory. However, the Spaghetti Factory has a limited menu and charges $.75 more for gluten free.

So where do you get this information? There are many Internet sites including,,, to name just a few.

Gluten Free Pizza has a list of places to find gluten free pizza. Imagine never being able to eat pizza again? This list contains pizza places and restaurants that offer gluten free.

AVOID - Things with Gluten

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Soy Sauce
  • Glue on envelopes
  • Some vitamins
  • Bar soap
  • Some shampoo and conditioner
  • Lipstick

If you are in doubt about a restaurant, you can contact them on the Internet or call them to find out if they have gluten free. I wanted to eat at The Texas Road House, well, actually I wanted to eat their barbecue ribs, however, when I contacted them they told me their barbecue sauce is not gluten free. Local restaurants are always easy to contact and most are very cooperative.

I have also found, aside from a gluten free diet, most places have hamburgers and you could bring your own bun. Order a plan hamburger with no bun and use your gluten free bun from home. Speaking of buns, this may be a little off topic but if you have a child with celiac you may appreciate it. Udi's makes a great gluten free hamburger and hot dog roll.

While eating in a Chinese restaurant is a no-no, there are now Chinese restaurants that offer gluten free. The culprit is usually the soy sauce, which suprisingly to most, contains gluten. I found a Chinese restaurant in northern New Jersey that uses Tamari, which is a wheat free soy sauce substitute. If I could find it, hopefully you can too.

Over the last ten years the offerings for gluten free have increased more than ten fold and not wanting to lose customers, restaurants have been jumping on the bandwagon. If you are traveling, when you stop in a strange restaurant ask if they have a gluten free menu, you'll be surprised at how many do.

I hope this has been helpful and that you find foods your child can enjoy at many restaurants.

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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Very true Vinaya, we learn as we grow and grow as we learn! Thanks for reading. Hugs.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal


      I remember reading about Celiac in one of your hubs. This hub is very informative for the parents. Thanks for sharing your parental advice. I know, years later, I will have all sorts of parenting tools.


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I so know what you mean, most of my meals when I eat out are cheeseburgers with no bun...the only place to safely eat fries is McDonalds because their fries are fried alone, however I don't recommend their hamburgers without a bun :)

      Thanks for stopping by and good luck to you and your husband, there really more restaurants going gluten free.

    • jenbeach21 profile image


      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      My husband has Celiac but thankfully my children were spared. We don't eat out much because it is hard to find places which are truly gluten free. It is just easier to cook your own meals and not have to worry about it.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Happy you liked my hub Carol. Always good to see your comments.

      Oh Audrey, I can only imagine how hard it is for children. Glad you enjoyed my hub.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      What a great article. It is difficult as an adult, but to be gluten free and eating out as a child is a real challenge--Thank you for this informative article!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      You did a great job and have super suggestions for taking kids out. Voting up and sharing.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Eddy. Hope it is useful for many.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and very useful, I vote up and share.

      Have a great day .


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      You are so right Janine, but we keep practicing :)

      Oh yes Effer, you know when someone has celiac, not only are their diets limited but you have to watch vitamins, makeup, even the glue on envelopes! Go California Pizza Kitchens ;). As for the apprentice program, it lasts for six months and you do get a small sum for the Hubs you write while in the program. MY dedication is partially selfish, I am learning too!

      Grandmapearl so sorry to hear about your uncle. I know the consequences of leaving celiac untreated. Thank you so much for your comment and votes.

      Michelle, it is so good of you to pass this information on...maybe someone will find a new place to eat!

      Thank you for the cookbook tips Jaye. They are helpful to me and I am sure to others too. I totally agree processed foods don't fit the bill for anyone!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      There seems to be a genetic link to celiac disease, and there have been similar issues with gluten within my family tree.

      Just came back to recommend a couple of cookbooks handy for celiacs:

      HEALING FOODS: Cooking for Celiacs, Colitis, Chrohn's and IBS

      by Sandra Ramacher


      by Bette Hagman

      The latter was published in 1990, but I think you can still find it online.

      Even though there are many gluten-free processed foods in stores today, it's still better when you cook most dishes from scratch so you can control the ingredients.


    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      I think the gluten free options would be a relief for those with celiac disease. Looking for the correct restaurant can be a real headache!! Thanks for sharing, and I will pass this important information on.

    • grandmapearl profile image

      Connie Smith 

      6 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

      Excellent information about Celiac and gluten-free choices. It is difficult, but my husband has decided to go gluten free just because it is a healthier choice in general.

      In fact, my uncle died of undiagnosed Celiac disease 2 years ago at the age of 71. It wasn't discovered until his autopsy!

      I'm sure this will help a lot of people to understand this disease better. Good job. Voted Up, Useful and Interesting.


    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Til....I'm learning so much about celiac disease through you. As far as I know, you are the only person, I know personally, who has it. The way you describe it, it's not likely I would have a friend with Celiac and not be aware, I'm sure.

      Seriously, my heart goes out to you and also to diabetics. To have to be so informed and careful at all times about what you can eat, has to take some getting used to and whole lot of tolerance.

      Also, because of you, I have taken note of "gluten-free" products, which I'd never noticed before. It's nice to know that more and more products are being offered and definitely that restaurants have made changes. "California Pizza Kitchen" doesn't have gluten free PIZZA....Way to go, California Pizza Kitchen! Maybe you guys could try a little harder? LOL

      When are you going to pass this apprenticeship program and be done with it? and BTW...what do you get for this? A big fat check and a vacation for 2? Your dedication amazes me. ...UP+++

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Great information Mary and will say I knew a relative of mine who had this and so try how limiting one's diet can become to avoid gluten. Thanks seriously for sharing this here!!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      While you are correct Billy, it is an Exclusive Title, it is also a subject I am very familiar with. Glad you appreciated the information.

      Oh Jaye, I can't imagine. I know in the last ten years alone there have been great strides, but when I first learned I had it there wasn't much to eat! Thanks for the vote.

      Kenyan, glad to be able to help broaden your horizons ;)

    • kenyanXstian profile image

      Eword Media Unit 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Good information there, I didn't know about Celiac, now I do.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      "Way back when" my daughter was born (I won't say how long ago, because she might not like for me to publicize her age), celiac disease was thought to be rare. Once she was diagnosed with the disorder, it became very difficult to feed her, and vitamin/mineral supplementation was necessary to ensure she got the nutrients she needed. I had to read labels assiduously and know which ingredients masqueraded as "safe" when they actually contained gluten. Add to the problems of avoiding gluten in processed foods and when cooking from scratch that she was a "picky" eater as a child. Fortunately, she learned to like healthy, gluten-free foods as an adult.

      I once made her a platter of fudge and decorated it like a birthday cake.

      I'm so glad that gluten-free foods are easy to find these days for people with either celiac disease or other gluten sensitivity.

      Very informative hub. Voted Up++


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This must be an article for the apprenticeship program. :) Well done and some valuable information for sure. Thanks for the info Mary!


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