Thursday, April 10, 2014

Going out for ice cream with your Celiac child

This is our first ice cream season as a Celiac family. Celiac Son was diagnosed in September, so it was easy to avoid during the fall and winter months. But with the warmer weather finally upon us, all of the little ice cream shops in town are starting to open up and Celiac Son wants to "go out for ice cream, already!"

Luckily, we are a food allergy family and this is not our first time around the ice cream rodeo. Remember, Celiac Son has a Peanut Allergy Brother. So, we are familiar with and comfortable requesting some extra TLC at the ice cream counter.

You may feel a little bit reluctant the first few times, but ice cream is something your child should not miss out on. It's worth the embarrassment of holding up the line and asking for help for yummy, yummy ice cream!

So here are my recommendations when going out for ice cream with a Celiac child:

First and foremost, always be sure to tell your server ahead of time that you have a gluten allergy and ask them if they are willing to take the necessary precautions to keep you safe. If your server is not comfortable, ask to please speak to a manager.

Second, you have to find a gluten free ice cream (nothing with cookies or other add-ins that contain gluten). Ask to read ingredient labels. You'd be surprised at what is added into ice cream.

Third, you have to ask the ice cream shop to open up a brand new container of the ice cream that you know is safe. The reason that you want the brand new container is that even though the ice cream may be gluten free, if the person before you (or before them) ordered that same ice cream and the employee scooped the ice cream into a cone, and then dug back into the ice cream carton for a second scoop, that ice cream is now gluten contaminated.

Finally, ask your server to diligently wash the ice cream scoop before preparing your ice cream from the brand new container.

Soft serve: Soft serve ice cream typically doesn’t have cross contamination issues, though you should still ask to see the ingredient list.

Cones: Obviously you want to avoid cones at the ice cream parlor. If your child MUST have a cone, Joy makes a gluten free ice cream cone. I would suggest bringing your own cone and place it on top of your child's ice cream bowl.

Toppings: also largely a no-no. Even if you are asking for a topping that is gluten free, they are typically left in open containers and cross contamination is a big issue. You can, however, ask for whipped cream out of a brand new container. My son gets excited about adding whipped cream to just about anything. Also, consider bringing your own gluten free toppings.

This ice cream process may sound daunting, but we have found over the years that most ice cream parlors that we visit are familiar with food allergies. In fact, it was at an ice cream shop in Bar Harbor, Maine that I was first exposed to the washing of the scoop. The server recommended it to me!

Like most things food related for a Celiac, going out for ice cream will take some careful planning, but for a reaction like this, I think we Celiac parents would all agree it's worth it!

P.S. Okay, she's not mine, but I couldn't resist!

Ice cream image credit:
Nut Free Zone image credit:
Joy ice cream cone image credit:
Super Cute Girl Eating Ice Cream image credit:

1 comment:

  1. Great tips! You did your research on this. It'll surely be helpful for celiac families.