Gluten Free Guerrillas
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Teen with coeliac

Hi, I’m a teenager with coeliac disease and whenever I go out with my friends I struggle to find places where I can grab something to eat. At the moment we always have to have a sit down meal which takes about an hour. Most people just go to McDonalds but I don’t know if it is okay there and I do not want to risk it as I get a very severe reaction. If you know of any food chains that offer gluten free food please let me know.

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Hi I noticed you replied to my post. I also have ceoliac its a bloomin nightmare isnt it! It sucks when everyone else grabs a kfc or mcdonalds and you cant. I usually go to Dominios get a pizza (although they are pricey) and when I give up googling for gluten free places I just get a sandwich from m&s lol. Besides I dont even trust the cafes /restaurants that say they have gluten free! Theres risk of cross-contamination everywhere. Its so frustrating being a ceoliac so I know how you are feeling

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If you ask your parents to join Coeliac UK there’s a special section/group to support kids/teenagers with Coeliac. I don’t know but maybe there’s a FB page you could join. Have a look on the Coeliac UK website. You could always call them and ask without joining - they are very helpful :)

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Pizza Express does gluten free pizzas and also big salad bowls. If you go on the mailing list they often offer vouchers 2 for 1 or suchlike which makes things cheaper.

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My daughter is nearly 16 and was diagnosed 10 years ago. Eating out can be challenging but not impossible. Lots of high street eateries provide gluten free menu choices these days, far more than 10 years ago. Prezzo, Pizza Express, Bella Italia, TGI Friday, Nando's, Pizza Hut, Frankie and Benny's all have great gluten free choices. When she grabs a snack in town with friends she heads to Costa or BB Muffins (fresh GF muffins!). Takeaway lunch would be McDonalds or Burger King as their fries and burgers are both gluten free; you either ask for them to put your burger in a GF bun for you, or if you're like my daughter an don't want the fuss, just eat it without bread! Although it makes life tricky, and less spontaneous, going out doesn't have to be difficult. You need to plan ahead and be prepared. She always has a snack with her just in case and usually has an idea beforehand where she will head at mealtimes. Her close friends are all supportive, but around people she is less familiar with, she would rather go hungry than draw attention to herself, which she will get better with as she matures I'm sure. Friends and family are always on the lookout in different shops or cafe's whenever they eat out, so that we know in future that there are other options. As more people are diagnosed, and because it is now a fashionable dietary choice to go gluten free, more and more places are providing free from choices. My daughter has just discovered a real love of food after years of having a very complicated relationship with it due to her coeliac disease, her diet is far healthier than any of her friends, and it has forced her to be more adventurous and knowledgeable about what she is putting in her body. Wishing you the best of luck - enjoy time with your friends as well as good food!

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Are you in the UK? as my understanding is that stores here don't have GF burgers. They say their fries are done in separate friers, but if you ask in store, the staff often cook the chicken nuggets in the same friers and put them on the same surface. Maybe it depends on the branch, but their website says they can't guarantee there's no cross contamination:

mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome/what...

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Fast food chains like McDonald's, KFC and burger king are a no go I'm afraid. Pizza Hut are accredited by coeliac UK, but I don't know anyone that trusts them or eats there. Anyone I know who has tried Dominos GF has been ill afterwards.

I have heard that Nandos can be safe, but it depends on the branch, as some are better trained than others. It is a risk!

If your friends want to eat at McDonald's, you could always bring in your own, and just explain why if anyone has a problem. Frustrating, as I know some McDonald's in Europe have a GF option, but not here!

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In reply to the doubters regarding Macdonalds, this has been lifted from their website:

All McDonald's UK beef burgers are made from 100% beef, (no binders, fillers or additives). They are seasoned with salt and pepper just after cooking, which again is suitable for people with a gluten intolerance. If you let your server know your requirements when placing your order they will be happy to help you.

Several items on our menu are free from ingredients containing gluten. However, we cannot guarantee that cross-contamination will not occur.

Items on our menu that are free from ingredients containing gluten include our French Fries, which are cooked in dedicated fryers using a non-hydrogenated vegetable oil; Hash Browns; Fruit Bags; Carrot Sticks and Garden Side Salad (with Balsamic Dressing); as well as some McFlurry desserts, such as the Crunchie and Dairy Milk; and certain Milkshakes. All of our other drinks are free from ingredients containing gluten except the Cappuccino, as the Chocolate Sprinkles used do contain gluten. McDonald's UK works very closely with Coeliac UK to provide a list of ingredients that are suitable for coeliacs. You can find more information on ingredients and allergens for all McDonald's UK menu items.

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I've not found any McDonalds in the UK that provide GF buns, yes their burgers are GF, but they are so tiny that they just wouldn't be worth eating on their own.

When I was in Barcelona last year, virtually all the McDonalds offered GF buns, and I have to say that they were quite nice, unlike most of the GF bread and rolls you get in the UK.

I'm afraid that we are still a long way from being able to eat out safely in the UK, unfortunately, the staff are not trained properly in a lot of places, I know this because I always ask how the food is prepared, and some of the answers I get are frightening, even the managers who are supposed to be overseeing everything are clueless a lot of the time.

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Lifted from the McDonald's website:

We have no plans to introduce gluten-free buns to our menu at the moment.

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The feedback from our local coeliac group is that they went into branches, asked if the fries were safe, and were told they share the friers (especially in busy periods). Your daughter is very lucky to have a branch that does dedicate a frier, but I'm highlighting the importance of asking. Their Q&A section also highlights the risk of cross contamination.

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McDonalds say that they are GF but they're not - im ill every time and after asking Manager at my local store - they checked packaging and surprise surprise - 'Wheat Flour'

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coeliac.org.uk/gluten-free-... Here’s the link to Coeliac Uk :)

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MacDonalds and burger king burgers are gluten free. Ask for a meal without the bun and most places will serve you the meal with a plastic knife and fork

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I really wish you luck on your coeliac journey. It can be as challenging as you wish to make it. My daughter is incredibly positive about it. She doesn't have a terminal illness and is lucky enough to live life to the full, just with the inconvenience of not being able to eat gluten. Most individuals replying to you will be totally supportive in trying to give advice enabling you to also live life as a normal teen. Unfortunately, there are the doom-mongers who will make you feel as if you should live in a cave in case you are gluten-ed!!! Good luck - you are a normal teenager who happens to also be coeliac. Go enjoy your food.xx

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I’m guessing that I am included amongst the doom-mongers, well the last thing I want to do is sound negative, but the reality is, you have to be very careful when eating out.

I have had many bad experiences when eating from the “so called” GF menu in some eating establishments, I’m not saying “don’t eat out at all”, I’m just trying to say “be very careful”.

I was diagnosed twelve year’s ago, so I think I can speak with some authority on the subject, what concerns me is, you have told the OP to go into McDonalds and ask for a GF bun, yet McDonalds own website states that they don’t do them, and some of the other places you mentioned are questionable because of the uncertainty of how well their staff are trained, there have been many horror stories on this website, and many other forums.

Here is a typical example of what I am talking about, my wife and myself were in a carvery where they claim to offer GF options, although I did have to supply my own GF gravy, and I obviously have to avoid the Yorkshire puddings etc.. so I go up to get my meat and what does the chef do? he stabs his carving fork into the Yorkshire puddings for the customer in front of me and then proceeds to stab the same fork into the piece of meat that he carved for me, I pointed out to him that I could be at risk of cross contamination if I eat that piece of meat, and I asked him if he could he go and get a clean fork for my serving, he muttered something under his breath as he reluctantly went and got a clean fork, when he returned, I calmly tried to point out that as a Coeliac, I have to be very careful, and he replied, “surely nothing can happen with just small amounts of gluten”, that’s how well he has been trained, if at all?

And as for Wetherspoons? I have spoken to some of the staff who work in some of their kitchens, and they say that they usually prepare the food using the same utensils, and on the same boards without any thought of cross contamination.

To the OP, of course, live your life as full as possible, you are a normal teenager, but please be careful when eating out, there are some great places to eat where they prepare the food properly, but it only takes a few minutes to ask how they prepare the food, don’t always assume that the staff are all properly trained in the preparation of GF food, if you have any doubts with how they answer your questions, then don’t eat there, you will soon build up a list of places you can trust and enjoy your meals out.

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Hi ive had coeliac for a few years and its a nightmare as im very sensitive. (Currently being tested for Chrons)

Best place for something quick and easy is M&S - they do lots of GF foods.

Ive found im ok with McDonalds chips and Pizza Hut Pizza

Dominoes is a no go for me

Also ask at local chippys what days they change the fat as the chips will be GF if no fish/sausage have been cooked!!

P.S it gets easier the longer you have it! you learn to manage and know what suits you x

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