Gluten-free: Eating Out

There is no doubt that eating out gluten-free is not an easy task, at least not for those with gluten-intolerance. Dealing with rude waiters /waitresses can ruin a meal in no time. Then when your meal comes and it has some gluten ingredients, sending it back adds fuel to the fire. Many of those with a gluten-intolerance or gluten-sensitivity are plagued with other food allergies and intolerances which multiples the problems.  Below I have listed some things that may help some, especially those new to the diet.

Restaurant Specials Board

    • Print menus from online if you will going to a chain restaurant; some mom and pop restaurants have their menu online as well.
    • Some of the more knowledgeable chain restaurants are Outback, P. F. Changs, and Panera restaurants (Panera Bread and Panera Cares).
    • Avoid going to a restaurant during their busiest times.
    • Call ahead to see if they can accommodate your needs.
    • If dining out for lunch you can bring your bread. Most restaurants are willing to make you a sandwich from your bread. Just educate them on how to prevent cross-contamination: use clean butcher paper on top of the cutting board, etc.¬†(Call ahead, though.)
    • If dining out for dinner bring your own pasta. (Call ahead.)
    • Be educated yourself. Know where to look for hidden sources of gluten: sauces, dressing, bacon, sausage, soups and broths, olives and the like.
    • Do not take anything for granted. I recently ordered a New York steak and it was topped with a gravy, which was made with gluten flour.
    • Try to stick with a restaurant that is familiar with your needs, as well as a waiter/waitress.
    • Have a snack before you go, as you will most likely not have bread to munch on, while others in your party may; or bring a gluten-free snack.
    • Obtain gluten-free dining cards which explain to your wait staff and chef your needs. TriumphDining carries laminated cards in 10 languages. Foreign language cards are handy when you go to restaurants where they do not speak your primary language, but TrimphDining cards are made specifically for cultural foods in that language. I find them handy in some Mexican or Chinese restaurants.

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