How to order gluten free and eat safe at any restaurant…

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. Be wary of fried foods – especially french fries – are foods cooked in the same fryer?
  2. Do they use filler in their meats for burgers?
  3. Do they use filler like pancake batter in their omelets?
  4. 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?
  5. Do you have other allergies like soy, corn or lactose? Don’t forget to mention those.
  6. Be wary of sauces, marinades, dressings and seasonings.
  7. Do they make it in house or is it in a package?
  8. Chicken broth and other broths usually contain gluten so watch out for soups unless they are specifically shown to be gluten free.
  9. 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!!

 

Comments

  1. Mindy says:

    Thank you for sharing! I actually use the same guidelines as you have listed and with over 4 years of trial and error when eating out I have learned a few things. If I do not get sick from eating at a certain establishment, I try to eat at the same one. Example, Chipotles. They know me very well and always always work with me. So I go to the same location. With that said though, I ate at a Bone Fish Grill restaurant while living in Washington State and got very very sick even when ordering from the gluten free menu and fully explaining with the server who seemed to understand. I never went back there to eat again. (I believe it was the mashed potato’s since I had never ordered those before and never had an issue…so….Celiac’s stay away from the mashed potato’s at BoneFish Grill!) I also try to do research before traveling to locate a safe and familiar restaurant to eat at that does have a gluten free menu. Or somewhere that serves simply eggs. Believe it or not IHop has worked with me ordering an omelet. Be wary though, you have to specify the omelet that is not made with pancake batter! It is still a risk depending on the IHOP. THe local one here I have never gotten sick eating there. Chic-Fil-A also has a wonderful salad. Croutons are not put on but packaged separately.

     

    • Rebecca says:

      Thank you Mindy for all these wonderful tips, suggestions and ideas! I’m glad to know other people are using these same questions for when they travel and they work for them as well. I appreciate the comment!

       

  2. Taylor says:

    Really liked all the tips! Especially the pancake batter in omelets tip since I don’t think many people ever consider that when they eat out. I found that always asking if the thing you’re about to order is gluten-free has to be asked every time. When I ordered a salad at Max and Ermas a while back I was told that both their chicken and dressing had gluten in it! I was pretty stunned and almost didn’t ask too. That would of been terrible of course…Thanks again for the great tips!

     

    • Rebecca says:

      We always have to remember to keep our guard up at all times!

       

  3. kunzfamily says:

    Great post!! I’m realizing (by trial & error) BW-3 most sauces have gluten and the ones listed GF still bother me. So annoying! Love the tip about sticking toward more expensive places!

     

    • Rebecca says:

      BW-3 actually cooks all their food in the same fryer so it’s really not a good choice for us!