Many chain restaurants have designated menu options that are gluten free (GF) or have the option to make certain dishes GF. However, you should exercise caution when going out to eat or eating at another person’s house. Many smaller or local restaurants are starting to offer GF options, but some do not. If you don’t see any GF options on a menu, make sure to talk with the wait staff and/or manager to see if they can accommodate your requests. Traveling can also sometimes throw a wrench in meal planning, especially in a different country. Here are some tips to keep in mind when eating out GF.
- Avoid fried foods. Many fried foods have a bread coating. Even if you order a fried food that doesn’t contain bread or gluten, the same frying oil is usually used for all fried foods. Particles of gluten can be transferred to other fried food.
- Avoid sauces or stews. Gluten ingredients can hide in sauces or stews very easily. Flour is often used when making a stew, and sauces can contain gluten ingredients like food starch, natural flavorings, malt, etc. For more information on hidden ingredients with gluten, see (link to hidden ingredients with gluten article).
- Avoid buffets. There may be items on a buffet that are gluten free, but there can be cross contamination. For example, someone may use the tongs for rolls to grab some carrots that are next to them. Now the carrots may contain gluten. Croutons in a salad buffet may be transferred to other containers for salad toppings. Some people eating a GF lifestyle may be able to eat at buffets. However, if someone has a severe reaction to gluten and diagnosed celiac, they may need to practice more caution.
- Avoid desserts. Unless noted GF, most desserts will have some source of gluten in them. Cross contamination is also a concern, as the kitchen may use the same utensil to serve a piece of pie with another dessert that may be GF.
- If you have questions, talk to the chef, wait staff or manager. Don’t hesitate to talk to people at a restaurant you are eating to discuss your food allergies. This may also give evidence to see if they fully understand what is required to make sure your meal is GF.
- If possible, go to a restaurant NOT during rush hour. This way your server will have more time to focus on you and your needs. If the restaurant is very busy, the chef and wait staff could mistakenly cross contaminate food that is suppose to be GF because they are in a rush.
For more information, see:
By Holly Klamer @ Step Ahead Nutrition