Gluten Free Problems Eating Out in Orkney

Coeliac disease is a common condition and yet are our cafes in Orkney catering for this increasing number of customers?  The Orkney News went out to investigate.

What is Coeliac Disease?

It is a common digestive condition where the small intestine becomes inflamed and unable to absorb nutrients.  People can experience a range of symptoms including diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating. To avoid this people can remove gluten from their diet. Now for people who do not have Coeliac disease gluten is an important part of their food intake, however, for those who have the condition they can stop eating foods containing 3 types of grain: wheat, barley and rye.


Gluten Related Disorders ( Dr. Schär AG)

What can you eat that is gluten free?

There is a wide range of foods you can eat: fruits,vegetables,meat,poultry, fish, seafood, dairy, beans, legumes and nuts.

There is also a huge range of grains and starchy foods that can be eaten:

  • rice
  • cassava
  • corn(maize)
  • Soy,
  • Potato
  • Tapioca
  • Beans
  • Sorghum
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat groats (also known as kasha),
  • Arrowroot
  • Amaranth,
  • Teff
  • Flax,
  • Chia
  • Yucca,
  • Gluten-free oats,
  • Nut flours.

fruit-1133768_960_720As you can see there is an enormous variety of foodstuffs available if you require a gluten free diet. What you cannot eat is anything that contains the 3 cereal grains quoted above and you will find these in many products: pasta, cakes, breakfast cereals, most types of bread, certain types of sauces and some types of ready meals.

Cafes in Orkney

It is thought that 1 in 100 people in the UK have Coeliac Disease. A condition which can seriously damage the lining of the small intestine and affect other parts of the body. Its severity differs from person to person.

Looking at the wide variety of foods that are gluten free and the large number of people now affected by coeliac disease you would think that cafes in Orkney would be able to produce dishes for this growing number of customers. The Orkney News will be visiting many cafes in the county to check out what they have and so far it does not look great.

We are not attacking these cafes and their staff but raising awareness that they are not catering for a large number of people and hoping that in so doing that they will think about what they are serving and make changes for the better.


  • Menus which do not have a simple GF next to items making it easy for those selecting foods
  • Having to ask at the counter for something to be prepared for you
  • Only item available: bread “which does not taste nice”

Cafe Lolz :

  • shelf of cakes all gluten free
  • menu well labelled with GF 
  • wide range of meals GF (frittata, risotto,superfood salads, small salad with balsamic dressing, warm chicken and cashew salad, fries)

Orkney Brewery: 1 kind of soup, bread

Pickaquoy Centre Cafe: Ask at counter, bread

Judith Glue’s Real Food Cafe:

  • 1 tem marked GF on menu – Burgers
  • cakes

The Orkney News is interested to hear from people who have encountered this problem and from cafe owners on what they offer and why. Contact or use our contact page.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

Additional Information

Coeliac Disease: NHS Choices

What Can I Eat?

Myths About Coeliac Disease

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