Lorraine showed the group around her kitchen, and explained how easy it is to make sure your kitchen is a ‘safe’ environment for coeliacs and other free from foodies.
Together the group shared experiences of eating out, both positive and negative, exploring the effects which can be felt physically and emotionally especially when eating out goes wrong. In fact, it can become so distressing for some that they are driven to starting their own businesses the fear of eating out can be so powerful.
Coeliac Chef Lorraine found that cooking professionally in an environment containing gluten was detrimental to her health, and it became impossible for her to carry on working in a traditional kitchen.
Another example of this is two sisters that both have coeliac disease. Guilia and Natalia Harte explain below:
‘We were diagnosed three years ago after 2 years of trying to find out what was causing our symptoms. Giulia suffers from fatigue and feeling sick as well as her throat swelling and struggling to breathe if she eats gluten. Whereas I've got a bit of every symptom you can imagine. I become very sick, dizzy, blurred vision, no coordination, foggy brain, sore joints and bones, fatigue and very emotional. We find it very difficult to eat out anywhere and feel safe, as our side effects are quite severe this. This led us to set up our little business. People with Coeliac disease now have somewhere they can trust and a place that's quick and convenient to eat.
The business has been here at Canterbury for about a year, selling to local businesses and taking private orders. We have only just recently started in Canterbury with our mobile food trailer.
We are in Canterbury every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at the moment. Any event we have to attend that prevents us being in Canterbury will be listed on our Facebook and Instagram account.’
The coffee morning closed having empowered the group to take control of their own safe eating out, by recognising visually what looks safe & what doesn't & by research of places to eat.
Here is a summary of tips Lorraine gave:
- Look for the Coeliac UK accreditation or free from status.
- Does the menu label allergens.
- Telephone and book your table and this you the chance to explain your circumstances.
- Do the staff come across knowledgeable giving you confidence?
- Can you see the kitchen? (open kitchen)
- Can you see how the food is displayed? eg. Are gluten containing goods displayed above or alongside gluten free foods. Are they covered or uncovered. If this is so can you trust it is a closed kitchen?
- Do the staff use separate clean utensils for gluten free?
- Can you see visible signs of potential cross contamination crumbs, flour dust, shared equipment.
- If there is counter service, do staff handle foods without washing their hand or gloves. This can create potential transfer of allergens.
There are lots of signs to look out for. If you are unsure follow your gut instinct as one thing is certain - if it is not safe eating your gut will soon let you know.
Always remember on the positive eating out had never been so good compared to even 16 years ago when Coeliac chef Lorraine was diagnosed so do not be put off, let's all go out and enjoy ourselves as eating out is a great experience.