Imagine, you walk into your favorite restaurant and without even glancing at the menu for more than 2 seconds, you immediately know what’s gluten-free and what’s not. Sounds too good to be true, isn’t it? Actually, yes. Gluten-free eating is just not as simple as black and white, yes and no. Not only has ‘gluten-free’ become a household term, but it’s also become a dietary trend. Although, for those of us personally affected by Celiac or gluten sensitivity, this is a mixed blessing.
The Gluten-Free Restaurant Experience
Ordering for gluten-free meals in restaurants eventually gives us more choice, but the situation does come with pitfalls. First and foremost is the need to ensure that any restaurant with a gluten-free menu knows not just what ingredients are used in their recipes, but how to safely prepare the meal without putting you at risk from gluten cross-contamination. Another less serious but still frustrating challenge is being able to separate those restaurants that make the most basic and often less-than-appetizing substitutions or omissions to claim that a menu item is a gluten-free from the restaurants that work hard to surprise and delight their gluten-free diners with well-thought-out, flavorful offerings… I mean seriously, just because one is gluten-free doesn’t mean they need to eat boring food, do they?
Gluten-Free Options To Consider Ordering At Your Dine-Out
Okay, brace yourself for some mouthwatering gluten-free food that you could always order at restaurants, here’s a list of most common gluten-free food options found on restaurant menus:
- Thin crust pizza (cheese, pepperoni, or veggie)
- Fajitas with corn tortillas
- Egg drop soup
- Fried rice
- Spicy chicken
- Beef chili
- Caesar salad (no croutons)
- Lemon basil salmon
- Shrimp with lobster sauce
- Craft burgers without buns (generally covered in lettuce)
- Fries (cooked in a dedicated gluten-free fryer)
- Rotisserie chicken
- Roasted turkey breast
- Steamed vegetables
- Mediterranean salad
Here Are Some Quick Rules For A Safe Gluten-Free Restaurant Experience
Today, it’s easier than ever to eat out on a gluten-free diet. Multiple restaurant chains offer gluten-free menus and seem to have taken the time to truly understand the needs of people gluten sensitivity, but it’s still possible to run into trouble at a restaurant, so here are some rules that would help you in your gluten-free dine-out experience.
- Select your restaurant smartly: You’ll need to choose sensibly, the kind of restaurant you select would determine the fact that how sensitive they are towards making the food gluten-free and safe for you to eat.
- Contact the restaurant beforehand to see if they are gluten-free friendly: Planning ahead is one habit that you need to develop if you go gluten-free. You need to ask if they offer gluten-free options such as gluten-free bread, pasta, pizza, and dessert. It’s seen that many restaurants offer gluten-free options but don’t always list them on their menu. Going through their websites is also a way to plan ahead, better.
- Tell the waiter that you are gluten-free: Never be embarrassed to tell that you are gluten-free! It could get much worse if you order something that you think is gluten-free, and it isn’t. You then face the risk of getting sick. So basically, never assume that something is gluten-free because menus typically don’t include all of the ingredients for each dish.
- If you’re not convinced, call the chef: Instead of trusting your server to get everything right, ask to speak to the chef directly. Chefs are mostly very knowledgeable and very willing to help. Once you started skipping the server and going straight to the chef, your restaurant-related glutenings would decline dramatically, trust me! details get overlooked and ingredients get garbled, especially as your requests get more complicated. A chef knows what to do, and how to cater to these requests.
- Make sure there is no risk of cross-contamination: Even if you manage to order your desired gluten-free food, you need to rule out all the possibilities of cross-contamination. Workers in busy restaurant kitchens need to share cooking surfaces, utensils, and pans, so it can be difficult to carve out a place to make an allergen-free meal in that chaos. Some restaurants that excel in gluten-free items actually keep separate kitchens for gluten and gluten-free food, even if they don’t have a separate kitchen you need to make sure they aren’t cross-contaminating the food if you have the slightest of doubts… just leave.
- Question EVERYTHING: You need to make a habit of asking a lot of questions. If you’re served with your food, you need to always ask ‘is this gluten-free?’ crowded restaurants have a problem, they mix orders and you can’t risk that. Making a habit of questioning could save you from any food-related mishap because It is very sensitive to trace gluten. Just don’t ever shy away from voicing out and questioning your concerns.
- Examine your food before eating: You need to be cautious, and super vigilant while examining your order. If there’s anything you find doubtful, send it back immediately.
- When in doubt, don’t eat out: In most cases, you’ll be able to eat out safely and enjoyably. But don’t be afraid to skip meals entirely on occasion if the restaurant staff seems clueless (or worse, indifferent) about gluten. Going hungry isn’t pleasant, but you’ll likely prefer it to get sick. If the chef doesn’t seem to get it or worse, doesn’t seem interested in trying you’re better off not taking a chance. Instead, what you could do is browse the healthy meal delivery services like Activeats online and order your gluten-free food from there, in the right proportions and with all the fresh and carefully selected ingredients.
Following a gluten-free diet is a necessity for some and a choice for others, but it is important to first know your condition and the boundaries of eating which are not to be exceeded, especially considering celiac diseases and wheat allergies. For dining out at your favorite restaurant, you just need to remember the rules, and you’ll have a safe gluten-free dine-out experience.