Navigating the world when being gluten free can often be difficult. While it’s relatively easy to eat gluten free at home, oftentimes going out to eat can be complicated. Even worse, business meetings with catered lunches or flights with limited options can seem daunting. However, with a bit of planning and some know-how, it’s easy to navigate the world as a gluten free traveler.
How To Deal with Being Gluten Free on the Go?
There are a few tips that can help make navigating the gluten free world a little bit easier. First, always carry easy snacks with you. This can include things like fruit, nuts, or gluten free bars (KIND and Larabars are favorites of ours).
If you’re traveling, make sure to pack snacks and meals that will be safe for you to eat (but make sure they can get through airport security!).
Additionally, it’s a good idea to have a list of gluten free restaurants in your area. This can help when you’re traveling or just looking for somewhere to eat.
Finally, be vocal. You are your own advocate. It’s not always easy and may sometimes feel like you’re a burden, but when in doubt, ask to speak to the chef, and don’t be shy to let the office manager know you need a gluten free meal.
Being gluten free can be a challenge, but with a little preparation it can be manageable. By following these tips, you’ll be able to confidently navigate the gluten free world.
Find Gluten Friendly Restaurants
We love to use sites like FindMeGlutenFree.com to find local restaurants with real reviews from gluten free patrons. These reviews can help you figure out what restaurants to avoid, or what dishes to either order or avoid if you’re gluten sensitive.
Know Your Allergens
If you have celiac disease, it’s important to know what foods and ingredients you should avoid. The same goes for if you’re gluten sensitive. Be sure to educate yourself on what ingredients may contain gluten so that you can make the best choices when eating out.
Aside from flour, gluten is in a lot of unexpected places like salad dressings, soy sauce, and even ice cream. Some common ingredients that contain gluten are:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Graham flour
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Malt extract
- Malt syrup
- Malt flavoring
- Malt vinegar
- Malted milk
- Matzo meal
- Modified wheat starch
- Oat bran
- Oat flour
- Oats, whole
- Rye bread
- Rye flour
- Soy Sauce
- Wheat bran
- Wheat flour
- Wheat germ
- Wheat starch
Avoiding Gluten Cross-Contamination
If you have celiac disease, it’s important to be aware of the risks of cross contamination. This means that even if a food doesn’t contain gluten, it may have come into contact with gluten during preparation.
When dining out, always ask about how foods are prepared and what measures are taken to avoid cross contamination. It’s also a good idea to bring your own condiments, such as ketchup or mustard, to avoid using those that may have been contaminated.
At home, be sure to take steps to avoid cross contamination. This means using separate cutting boards, pots, and utensils for gluten free foods. It may also be helpful to have a designated gluten free oven or microwave.
What is a Gluten-Free Menu?
You will find some restaurants have a dedicated allergen menu or dedicated gluten free menu. This will help you to identify meals that can be adapted for your gluten free diet. If a restaurant does not have a specific menu, ask your server about options that can be made gluten free.
Be aware that not all restaurants are the same and some will have more options than others. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and assume that food has come into contact with gluten during preparation.
Some common items that are safe to eat on a gluten free diet include:
As always, when dining out, make sure to communicate your needs to your server. They should be able to help you navigate the menu and make choices that are safe for your gluten free diet.
What Fast Food Can Celiacs Eat?
If you’re on the go and need a quick bite, there are some gluten free fast food options that are safe for celiacs. Here are a few of our favorites:
Chick-fil-A – All classic chicken sandwiches can be made gluten free by ordering without the bun. The grilled nuggets and salads are also safe choices. Chick-fil-A also offers gluten free buns.
In-N-Out – All burgers can be ordered “protein style” which means they will come wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun. The fries are also safe to eat.
Shake Shack – The burgers and chicken sandwiches can all be ordered without a bun. The french fries are also safe to eat.
Five Guys – All burgers and hot dogs can be ordered without a bun. The french fries are also safe to eat.
Taco Bell – Many items on the menu can be made gluten free by ordering without the tortilla. The burritos and tacos can also be made without a shell. Be sure to ask about specific ingredients as some items may contain gluten.
Chipotle – Almost all items on the Chipotle menu can be made gluten free. Just ask your server for options that are safe for your diet.
These are just a few of our favorite fast food options for celiacs. Be sure to check with the individual restaurant for their offerings. Many places will have gluten free menus or adaptations available.
When in Doubt: Pack Your Own Meals
When traveling, it’s always a good idea to pack your own meals. This way you know that you’ll have something safe to eat and you won’t have to worry about cross contamination.
There are lots of easy gluten free recipes that can be made ahead of time and travel well. Check out our Recipes section for some ideas!
Being gluten free doesn’t have to be hard. With a little preparation and these tips, you’ll be able to confidently navigate the gluten free world!