When choosing to eat a gluten free diet, it IS possible to have a fabulous meal in a restaurant. It takes a little knowledge and patience but it is easily doable.
Here’s how to keep yourself from accidentally eating gluten…
Know exactly what it is you’re looking out for-
Avoid wheat, barley, rye, & oats (oats can be cross contaminated with wheat unless it specifically says, gluten free). Be familiar with the gluten free diet so you know how to modify your meal. Don’t assume that anything is gluten free! Sometimes restaurants even coat French fries/potatoes in flour before frying to give them that extra crisp. You would never know until your onset of symptoms occurs!
Don’t go to a restaurant extremely hungry-
This is good advice for anyone eating out. When you’re starving, you’re likely to overeat or let your guard down when choosing your meal. A good tip is to keep raw almonds on hand at all times and have a few before you go out to eat. It’ll make it much easier to sacrifice as much as needed to eat right. It will also help you resist the sugary soda and other unhealthy options.
Choose restaurants that have a gluten free menu-
Look online before you dine. These days it’s much easier to eat gluten free everywhere you go. They may even advertise their gluten free menus online. If they don’t, at least you can take a look at their menu to see what you can have. Be prepared to be flexible with your choices. What you order may not have been your first choice, but it may definitely be the healthier choice. Unfortunately, most restaurants won’t allow you to bring in your own food (it’s a health safety issue,) but it’s always easy to make do with they have. Going to an italian restaurant? Ask them to prepare the dish over steamed veggies instead of past. You’ll get the great flavor of the sauce (make sure it’s gluten free sauce of course,) but none of the heaviness that pasta brings. Want a sandwich? Have them serve it lettuce wrapped with tomatoes instead of bread. Opt for the grilled chicken, lean meat, or fish and ask that it be prepared with no sauce and preferably, no butter or oil. Something seemingly healthy can quickly become unhealthy when drowning in a pool of butter and oil. Try asking for a side of lemons, salsa, or balsamic vinegar for some added flavor.
Tell your server about your needs and if they don’t understand, ask to speak to the manager or chef himself. Ask if the dressing or sauce is made from scratch. Ask if the soup comes from a can. Has the food been dusted with flour before cooking? Has the food been marinated in anything containing gluten? Are there croutons on the salad? Are the bacon bits artificial ? Are your mashed potatoes from a mix or are they made from real potatoes? Do you add anything to your eggs? Does your green tea have barley in it? Kindly ask questions.
Some other things to watch out for:
breaded/crusted meats & fishes
seasoned ground beef/chicken
veggie/ turkey burgers
While finding out if your food contains gluten, you’ll get a better idea of what is in your food and how it’s being prepared. Usually, when you cut out things containing gluten, you’re also getting rid of ingredients that you’re body has a hard time digesting anyway. Ask your server as many questions as it takes to find out how your food is prepared. These days, chef’s are extremely conscious of wheat allergies and are happy to meet your needs. When in doubt, go for clean natural foods. Also, know that although restaurants post calorie facts it can sometimes been underestimated.
It definitely gets easier with experience. Don’t be overwhelmed. It’s doable. Just know how much better you’ll feel when you leave!