How to order gluten free at any restaurant –
When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I had no clue what I was doing. It took me several months to figure out what I could and couldn’t eat and to this day, I still struggle a bit with knowing secret places of gluten.
I learned to dine out safely pretty much anywhere without getting glutened as long as I keep my guard up and ask the right questions. The rest is pretty much up to chance due to cross contamination and relying on someone else (a stranger) to keep me safe. You never have any idea what goes on behind the scenes at a restaurant.
Hopefully with these tips, you can also have successful adventures at restaurants and it will take the pressure off of social situations when your friends want to go somewhere and you are unsure of the menu!
- Educate yourself on gluten first before going out to eat. You really need to understand the disease and gluten before risking going out on your own. Without your own understanding and education, you can’t expect to know how to help the wait staff help you.
- Before ordering anything, make it very clear to the waiter that you have a gluten allergy. Now we all know that gluten allergy doesn’t really exist and celiac disease is an autoimmune response but no one else understands that so just stick to the gluten allergy. Also, if you use the word “allergy” restaurants take the request seriously versus saying a “diet” or “intolerance.”
- Know some options that are safe usually anywhere and stick to those if you feel uncomfortable. Some perfectly good options are naked meats (no seasoning or marinades) with veggies or potatoes. Don’t forget to ask if things are cooked together, especially in fryers.
- If the waiter seems unsure of anything, do not hesitate to ask for the manager or the chef to come speak with you. Your safety should be their #1 priority. It is not an inconvenience for them when you ask questions!
Here are some important things to consider before ordering at any restaurant:
- Be wary of fried foods – especially french fries – are foods cooked in the same fryer?
- Do they use filler in their meats for burgers?
- Do they use filler like pancake batter in their omelets?
- Where are the items prepared? Are they making your salad in the same bowl as the one they just used for a crouton filled salad?
- Do you have other allergies like soy, corn or lactose? Don’t forget to mention those.
- Be wary of sauces, marinades, dressings and seasonings.
- Do they make it in house or is it in a package?
- Chicken broth and other broths usually contain gluten so watch out for soups unless they are specifically shown to be gluten free.
- Do they have a dedicated area for gluten free cooking? How to they prevent cross contamination?
One big thing I learned in Las Vegas is the more expensive the menu the better chances you have of getting a safe and delicious gluten free menu. Chef’s are typically trained in food allergies and know the ingredients of their dishes inside and out versus cooks at chains or cheap restaurants. So an idea is to save going out to eat for the big events and times when you can save up to have a great dinner!
Do you have tips for dining out gluten free? Please post them below to help others stay safe!!