Because “gluten” is now a buzzword, many restaurants are jumping in and making meals gluten-free, or are working to make their entire establishment gluten-free. Still it’s best to do your research before eating out.
There are organizations out there to help in this area. Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG, found at gluten.net) is a nonprofit organization that helps those with gluten-related disorders live full, healthy, and productive lives. GIG also provides education manuals, training materials, and menu reviews to restaurants looking to provide meals for gluten-free diners.
So what can you eat? Some safe appetizer options are veggies, salads with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar on the side, caprese salads, steamed edamame, or steamed shrimp. Any entrée that uses chicken, seafood, pork tenderloin, or lean beef, and is grilled, broiled, baked, or roasted is usually safe. To top it off, fresh fruit or fruit sorbets are best when looking for a dessert. Depending on the brand, chocolate or vanilla ice cream may also be an option.
Remember, even French fries—which are inherently gluten-free—are typically used in a common fryer with the rest of the food in the restaurant. Always ask questions!
Gluten is everywhere, but there are people out there—dietitians for instance—who can help you in the process. Once you get the hang of living a gluten-free lifestyle, it won’t seem so daunting. Just remember that asking questions, researching, and learning will help you on your gluten-free journey.
8 Tricks to Ensure Gluten Safety While Eating Out
>> 1) Ask questions! Do the chefs know all the ingredients? Does the waiter understand your diet? What are the procedures to ensure safety?
>> 2) Make reservations. This allows the staff to prepare for your needs and also gives you time to explain the situation to the manager.
>> 3) Bring a gluten-free dining card. These cards will explain what gluten is, where it can be found, and how to avoid cross-contamination.
>> 4) Wear a medical alert bracelet. If the worst-case scenario unfolds, it’s best to be prepared.
>> 5) Avoid typical gluten culprits. Fried foods, sauces, stews, pot pies, and soups usually contain gluten. Buffets and desserts are also questionable.
>> 6) Keep your order simple. By ordering foods as simple as possible—a salad with dressing on the side, for instance—you will be able to control what goes on your plate.
>> 7) Be polite. Choose to be polite when talking with the waitstaff, kitchen, and management. This will ensure that you and your food are being handled with care.
>> 8) When in doubt, go without. Sometimes it is easier to just say no to the menu items in question.