Quick Tips for Dining Out Gluten Free
When you have a food allergy, going out to eat can be stressful and frustrating. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.
Many restaurants have come to realize that the needs of their customers are changing and they, in turn, are adapting their menus to meet this need. Usually, no matter where you choose to dine, you are able to find a few gluten-free options available right off the bat but, what happens when there isn’t a single item with that beautiful, bold GF stamped next to it?
Don’t worry! We have you covered! Below you will find a few tips on how to stay gluten-free while still enjoying eating out.
Look at the Restaurant Website
If you know what restaurant you will be going to ahead of time, take a few minutes and look at the menu online. This will give you a better idea of what to expect when you arrive and it also gives you the opportunity to plan and prepare anything you might need as a substitute. I am a salad lover from way back but, I often find myself unable to eat them at restaurants because the dressings aren’t always compatible with my allergy. Many restaurants do not make their own salad dressings and severs aren’t always able to tell you what ingredients are in the pre-prepared dressings. If I see there is a salad that I would like to try but there isn’t any information about the dressing, I will make and pack my own. This allows me to eat what I want while still being in control of my allergy.
If you are unable to tell if there are gluten-free items available on the menu, call ahead and ask if they serve any dishes that are gluten-free.
Ask Your Server
Don’t be afraid to talk to your server. Part of being an excellent waitress or waiter is being able to provide answers. Sometimes, a simple question, “can this be made gluten-free?”, is all you need to ask. If the server doesn’t know or isn’t 100% sure, ask them to check with the kitchen or ask if you can speak with the chef. Chances are the chef may already have an idea of how to modify the dish or will have other suggestions. Also, don’t be afraid to make it very clear that anything less than gluten-free is not acceptable, especially if you are a Celiac.
Choose restaurants you know are GF friendly. If you are traveling or in the mood to try something different, there are lots of resources that have done all the hard work for you. AllergyEats.com is a great website that has information on restaurants nation wide that cater to gluten-free and other allergy sensitive eaters. You can also download an app to your smart phone. FindMe Gluten Free is a no-cost app that is similar to Yelp! but is specific to restaurants and other places that are either entirely gluten-free or offer a variety of GF options.
A newer option to consider is Nima. Nima is a sensor which allows you to test your food for gluten while on the go. You first take a sample of the food in question, and insert it into a gluten test capsule. Then you insert the test capsule into the sensor, and press start. Within a few minutes, the Nima sensor will let you know if the food in question is gluten-free or if there is gluten present. Nima also has an iPhone app to where you can contribute your own test results to help others in the gluten-free community discover new restaurants and foods.
Being gluten-free does not mean you have to give up on going out to eat so don’t be intimidated into staying home tonight! Give yourself the night off and let someone else do the cooking!