A quick and easy guide to surviving your dining out experience when you are gluten-free.
Going out to eat should be fun and stress-free even if you have Celiac or are gluten-intolerant. The key is to let the restaurant and server know right away, don’t be shy!
Here is a quick and easy guide to help make your dining out experience stress-free when eating gluten-free:
- Most restaurants now have their menu online, so before you go check with their website
- Just ask…most restaurants have a gluten-free menu
- You don’t have to explain your whole health history to the server, just tell them you have an allergy to gluten and for the server to notify the chef.
- Its all in the sauce! The main culprit that chefs love to add to sauces and dressings is flour or gluten containing ingredients. Know that soy sauce is not gluten-free.
Relax! Most cuisines are gluten-free but be cautious when eating:
- Thai food: some curry dishes use flour to thicken the sauce, so just ask the server if they use wheat to thicken the sauce or soy sauce and if they do ask if they can make the dish without it, most restaurants will!
- Italian food: this is a little trickier but recently more places are offering gluten-free or rice pasta dishes and even gluten-free pizza!
- Mexican food: this one is easy…just ask for corn tortillas! But be aware that most enchilada sauces might have flour in them.
- Sushi: ask for gluten-free soy sauce! If you are a frequent diner at sushi restaurants just bring your own gluten-free soy sauce so you know you will be able to enjoy your sushi. I have found most place will not mind, especially if they do not carry it.
- Burgers: Just ask for “protein” style which is made with a lettuce for a bun or ask for no bun. Some restaurants now have gluten-free buns.
- Fries: most fries are naturally gluten-free but the oil that they are fried it may be contaminated with gluten/wheat. Sweet potato fries maybe coated with flour as a thickener so these may not be gluten-free. If you are really sensitive to gluten- see if they can make your fries in fresh oil. But note that some restaurants do buy pre-packaged fries that do have gluten in them as a preservative…so just ask!
- Beverages: All distilled alcohol is gluten-free. For beer, Redbridge is now nationally distributed and at most chain restaurants. But there are others such as Bard’s, New Grist, New Planet, and Green’s. Wine is gluten-free.
- Dessert: Safe bet is ordering sorbet or flourless chocolate cake. But most chefs are willing to accommodate and can make something for you!
This is just a quick and easy guide to surviving your dining out experience when you are gluten-free. There are great resources online that have travel tips and “Celiac/Gluten-free” travel cards that you can take to restaurants explaining more in detail about your allergy so you don’t have to tell them if you are not comfortable.
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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc
- Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
- Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
- Master’s Degree in Chemistry
Northern Arizona University
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