Gluten Free Guerrillas
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Ignorance of other diners when eating out

I've just survived 2 weeks in Tenerife eating out every night without being glutened! I know the Spanish are well up on coeliac and gluten but this is the first time I've eaten out every day on holiday, it's still a stressful business though.

We did go back to the restaurants we felt were making an effort to get it right, so I didn't live dangerously every night and we had some lovely food.

However, one night I was discussing the menu and trying to get reassurance that certain dishes were without gluten, when I heard someone behind us make a comment about gluten free and laughing, then his partner joined in the joke, this sort of spoiled my meal. I'm not confrontational so although I felt like asking them if they would take the micky out of someone with another 'hidden' illness - well I didn't. I did manage to give them a couple of dirty looks and they left before I'd finished my starter so I didn't feel too uncomfortable for too long.

See the fussy eaters and fad diet information gets out there but not the coeliac issues bah! After this I felt I had to say for medical reasons I need to eat a gluten free diet. I do have the translation app but these restaurants all speak very good English and like to tell you how much they understand.

On another occasion the waiter brought my meal just about did a twirl and said very loudly 'steak and pepper sauce without the gluten', heads turned from those at the nearest 10 tables and I almost stood up and took a bow, declaring 'yes, I'm the sick one!!

Then there was the waitress who spent ages finding out what I could eat then promptly put prawn skewers on the table coated in breadcrumbs, this time I did lose it a little and asked 'did she actually know what gluten is?' she apologised profusely and it turned out she got the prawn dish mixed up with another. Anyway, I took a chance on the main course and it was exceptional and I was okay, thank goodness, since we were flying home the next day.

I suppose it is the looks you get from other diners in eating establishments that get to me, which is why we don't eat out every night on holiday because I get 'worn down' and feel I can't cope when it's very difficult to not be overheard by other people dining!

Some progress has been made though as this time we had 14 evening meals and 3 or 4 brunch/lunches in a number of different restaurants and I brushed off the funny looks etc. to a certain extent.

So how do you cope with this type of thing from fellow diners?

16 Replies

Best just to ignore them. I can understand how they react the way they do. It's down to lack of knowledge and understanding. If it had been a nut free diet you were on I bet no-one would have bothered.


It's lovely that you could eat out on holiday, but I understand the feeling of being 'worn down'. Trying to make sure that you don't get glutened can be exhausting. Mmmm is right - those comments just show ignorance, on all levels. Definitely need to ignore them and concentrate on your good holiday memories.

My husband has been known to tell people how ill I get if I eat gluten ... embarrasing but effective.


Ha and good on your husband, I'd be quite tempted to speak up with a "it wouldn't be nice for your other diners if you gave me gluten" and I don't even have CD, it would certainly embarrass any gawkers! :)


I solved the problem last time we went on vacation by only eating in top quality restaurants with resident chefs that made everything from scratch. They were more than accommodating and I didn't have any problems at all ... well done Lunnenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada... UN designated historial site!


Hi Liana

Yes this is a good way of coping, I managed a 4 week tour of Canada 18 months ago BUT it comes at a price. Which brings me to the point - we always have to eat in the more expensive places even in a holiday resort. Most of the restaurants we ate in I spoke to the owner and/or the chef, my point is other diners gawking and muttering faddy diets that we have to rise above. :-)


I'm pleased that you had such a positive experience in Canada! I agree that it's more expensive, but the quality is also so much better and with it the service. In Canada, everything gluten free is much more expensive so you get used to it. I honestly don't care what other people think othey do get sr say, although if they say it to my face they do get properly educated... it's just their ignorance talking - more to be pitied than suffered!


I am off to Tenerife in April, we are going with friends who know the hotel very well.

Its an H10 and they have a huge fridge in the dining room full of yummy food all gluten free.

Again always best to rise above ignorant people, there will always be some idiot wanting to show off to his girlfriend/wife.....



We spotted a few H10 hotels in the Arona area - We mostly go self catering as it gives a bit more freedom, we're late movers in the morning so would probably miss breakfast ;-)

However, it is another option to consider in future - I may even be pleasantly surprised. Enjoy your holiday.


Great to hear about successful dining out GF. We often eat out and GF is rarely an issue as I choose meals unlikely to contain gluten then ask the waiter after I have ordered "BUT I need these choices to be GF." Irritatingly I've found adding the word 'intolerant' somewhere in my request often lights up a bulb of understanding although I resent having to use an inaccurate term. We often eat at Maison Blanc, Carluccios (?) and Cote and last week The Devonshire Arms at Pisley near Bakewell had GF bread. I make a point of thanking, as we leave, for the help given me to have a good meal.


Hi Malago

It was great not being glutened once - maybe a bit of a glutton at times as the food was really good ;-)

I was pleasantly surprised on the way home from the airport we stopped for some lunch and the restaurant had a full gluten free menu. This was The Tanglewood on the outskirt of York, superb meal and they had gf bread and Wold Top Beer too. ;-)


Hi Maqh, so nice to hear you had a stress free holiday. Keep your fingers crossed, I am off to Abu Dhabi next week on holiday and have to avoid gluten, lactose, onion, garlic and some root vegetables and fruits.

I was in Dubai last year in March and the hotel was amazing, no upsets, just wonderful food in every restaurant on the hotel complex. I am praying that this time will be same! Liana is right, it really does help when you can speak with the chef directly.


Good luck in Abu Dhabi - I hope you manage okay - its not somewhere I've been and I think I would be a little apprehensive with only gluten to avoid. Enjoy your holiday


Liana is totally right, I've been lucky enough to have dinner at a couple of top notch places and they really take care of you, Heston's Dinner had such good bread that I had to ask if it was actually GF. The waiter even told me what could be replaced in certain sauces etc. Having said that I've found a lot of chain-restaurants are really good - Brown's have done me potato sides that are not on the menu, and yummy too!

Maqh, good on you for not be daunted in another country, that would make me really nervous when going out, over here I just tell them when I book that I need a GF option! Glad you had a good time and got to eat out well, despite uneducated diners ;)

Allergies, crossing fingers for you, from what I hear Dubai is amazing so hopefully you'll find them accomodating on your dietary requirements :)

Wagamama's used to be a fave of mine but I found it really difficult last time I went, my favourite dish was a no go and I found it difficult to get many answers in there, I should check their website and see if it has more info on really.

I did find Zizzi's really good a few weeks ago, I knew I would struggle to eat a whole portion of GF pasta so asked if they did a started size - no but they were more than happy to do a kids portion as a starter :D



I have never let my coeliac stop me travelling I just find it a bit stressful sometimes. Since being diagnosed 3 and half years ago we have been to Egypt twice, once on tour and the other a resort, Ischia, Rome, Pompei, Kos, Canadian tour, Senegal, Lanzarote, Leros, Rhodes and Tenerife - Los Gigantes and Arona. This the most relaxed I've ever been though for eating out. So go on if you get the chance take a nice holiday abroad.


It doesn't help when people like Gwynneth Paltrow are suddenly using it or when tennis players say it gave them the edge.

In Spain I've found it easier to say I'm Coeliac as that seems to be better understood. Last time I mentioned to the manager on entering the restaurant and asked if there would be something for me. He sent a waiter to our table who was incredibly knowledgeable and advised appropriate dishes. Someone once told me to say I was allergic as that would be taken seriously and I've only used that in the UK.

I don't expect anyone to understand really as I don't understand a diabetic's diet.

If you felt annoyed about the other diners' insensitivity it would have been better to say something than still be upset about it on returning home. There humour might have been "good luck with that one!".


Hi, I find it really annoying eating out and trying to order takeaway! There are a lot of people who just don't know what gluten is, "oh why can't you have biscuits? I wouldn't have thought they had gluten in!" It's frustrating enough trying to order gluten free food in the UK never mind abroad - I don't look forward to it! I'm glad so many of you have had good experiences though.


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