How to Eat Gluten-Free at Restaurants

It’s one thing to change your diet when you’re preparing the majority of your meals at home- You know exactly what goes into the preparations and onto your plate. When you start venturing out into restaurants, it can be risky. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to remain a hermit at home.

To help you navigate the restaurant world, here are a few tips to enjoy good eats while remaining true to your gluten-free plan.

American food

Generally safe options

  • Bunless burger w/avocado, mushrooms and onions
  • Salad with grilled shrimp (no croutons)
  • Grilled chicken with a side of veggies and sweet potato

Potential traps

Breaded/fried foods: Virtually all breaded foods in the average restaurant will contain gluten. You may find a rare restaurant that offers rice flour breading, but that’s a gem to find. You’re better of avoiding any breaded options.

Fried foods are often all cooked together at a restaurant, so there’s risk for cross contamination. This is a major concern for someone with celiac because if they eat fries (which are naturally gluten-free) cooked in the same fryer as breaded chicken nuggets, they could become extremely sick. If you’re choosing to eliminate gluten for reasons outside of celiac you may not have to be as strict, so you can determine to what level you want to take it.

Salad dressings/marinades: These often contain gluten, so it’s best to ask your server or chef if the marinades are gluten-free. If in doubt, stick with olive oil and vinegar.

Hot dogs/sausage: The fillers and casing in processed meats can contain gluten, so even though it looks like “just protein” there are ingredients to that meat if it’s been processed. Ask your server specifically if gluten-free options are available and of course go bunless!

Italian food

Generally safe options

  • Salads with meat or seafood
  • Gluten-free pasta or pizza

Potential traps

Cutlets: Chicken, veal, eggplant – these foods are likely breaded or at least coated in flour (gluten) in the cooking process. Ask for a grilled option.

Bread basket: This is an obvious, but extremely tempting trap. It’s best to ask your server to not bring it to the table at all.

Risotto: While the base of it may be rice which is gluten-free, it’s often cooked with a chicken broth that often contains gluten. Check with the chef to be certain.

Asian food

Generally safe options

  • Steamed chicken, broccoli, and white rice
  • Steamed shrimp, veggies, and brown rice
  • Salmon/tuna avocado sushi roll

Potential traps

Soy sauce: Turns out sodium levels and genetically modified soy aren’t the only concerns for having soy sauce. It also contains gluten. Ask for a gluten-free option or use coconut aminos. You also want to make sure you’re aware dishes that are made with soy sauce such as eel sushi rolls and ginger dressing.

Crabstick: Probably the most unknown gluten in a sushi restaurant is found in the crabsticks. You can often order a California roll and just sub out the crabstick for salmon
or tuna. They may upcharge you a dollar or two, but your health is worth it.

Tempura: This is a version of fried foods, which as mentioned in the American cuisine, has several risks. Avoid tempura and omit anything that is topped with “crunch.”

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