How to Eat at a Chinese Restaurant When You're a Lactose Intolerant Coeliac Disease Sufferer

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It can be difficult enough to eat at home when you suffer from coeliac disease and lactose intolerance, but going to a restaurant is a whole other ballgame. You don't want to end up in the bathroom feeling ill after your first course. You can, of course, ask for ingredients to be left out. However, you may feel uncomfortable or fussy doing so, especially when you're with company, whether that's a working dinner or a date This guide will give you options for a three-course meal that doesn't need to be altered and won't leave you feeling sick later on. The following dishes should be gluten and lactose-free in most restaurants, but some restaurants could use non-standard ingredients. For extra safety, call ahead to the restaurant and run your choices by them beforehand so that you won't have to do it on the day. You'll also want to check that dishes you order will not be cross-contaminated by being cooked in a pan with foods containing gluten and lactose products. A restaurant should be able to tell you this beforehand. If they do cook multiple things in the same pan, you should be able to request that they don't use this method for your dishes. Many restaurants will take account of your illness and work to accommodate you.

Your Safe Choice of Starters

You'll be glad to know you won't have to miss out on traditional Chinese restaurant starters like prawn crackers --  these are made using tapioca flour and without dairy, making them an ideal choice to start your meal.

Deep fried seaweed is another nice option to start with. Before you order, make sure it's not dipped in wheat batter.

Some spring rolls may be made with rice flour pastry. Check this by phone before you arrive.

Your Safe Choice of Mains

For your main dish, opt for rice or rice noodles, which are both lactose and gluten free. Rice dishes can be cooked in soy sauce, so long as the sauce is naturally extracted. Natural soy sauces are made from fermented wheat using a process which renders the sauce gluten free.

Many coeliac sufferers will take their own soy sauce to restaurants to avoid risk. Check with the restaurant beforehand to find out what type of soy sauce they use.  

Accompany this dish with steamed vegetables. Vegetables, fish, and meat will not contain gluten or dairy. However, this will depend on the way they're cooked.

Your Safe Choice of Deserts

When it comes to desserts, it can get a little tricky for lactose intolerant coeliac disease sufferers -- many Chinese desserts are made using batter or will contain dairy products. If you're full by this point, you can opt for a nice cup of Chinese tea to end your meal. If not, fruits such as lychees or a standard fruit salad will be your best choice. Check that no problematic ingredients are added to these desserts when you call the restaurant.