*If you are eating out at a restaurant and you want to eat gluten-free, it means doing your homework first. Simply ask a lot of questions. Ask point-blank if gluten-free options are offered. Then ask what types of ingredients are used in the foods you are thinking about eating. Mom-and-pop restaurants, cafés and diners may not be up to speed as far as understanding what is and is not gluten-free, but most chain restaurants will be able to answer your questions with a high degree of accuracy.
If you are headed to a friends party or dinner, talk to your host ahead of time. If it is not possible to arrange for gluten-free options, eat before you attend a party or celebration where you know gluten-filled food will be present. If you are uncertain about a dish, pass it by. You may be hungry, and tempted to try some delicious looking dish, but there is no need to trigger uncomfortable and possibly dangerous symptoms when you can simply wait and eat later.
Apps That Can Help
To complement your gluten-free shopping applications, here are a few apps for your smart phone or tablet that can help you stay on target when eating away from home.
iCanEat Fast Food Gluten Free & Allergy Free
It is possible to eat fast food without succumbing to gluten. Just remember that fast food and fast casual dining destinations don’t always have the healthiest food. You may get gluten out of your diet, but there are a lot of preservatives, additives and other less than healthy components in fast food.
This application contains nutritional information from over 40 fast food and fast casual dining chains in the United States. You can quickly see if the food you are eating at Chick-fil-A, Boston Market, Chipotle, Jack-in-the-Box, Buffalo Wild Wings or several other popular fast-serve restaurants is gluten-free.
This is a neat application that is based on user input. You and other gluten-free diners report about how well or poorly particular restaurants handle diners that are allergic to certain foods. You can search by the top 10 allergens, enter a location where you are thinking about eating, or simply choose the “Find Near Me” suggestion tool.
iEatOut Gluten & Allergy Free
This application lets you browse menu choices, including sauces and ingredients, in Indian, French, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Steak and Thai restaurants around the world.
Find Me Gluten Free
With this app, you simply enter a specific location or you can browse “Popular Chains”. You also have access to user reviews, the websites of popular chain restaurants, and their gluten-free menus.
Gluten Free Restaurant Cards from CeliacTravel.com
The problem with asking your waiter if an item does or does not contain gluten is that the message sometimes doesn’t make it back to the kitchen intact. These wonderful and free gluten-free restaurant cards spell out exactly what food requirements a celiac or gluten-sensitive person has. They are listed in a number of languages, and previous users say they are an incredibly handy resource for eating gluten-free, whether in your native country or abroad. You can find them here: Restaurant Cards for Celiac
Avoiding Gluten from Other Sources
It’s easy to avoid bread to keep gluten out of your system. The most common place gluten is found is in bread and food products that have wheat. However, some sources of this protein are surprising. For instance, beer, ketchup and soy sauce may have gluten. Some medication, cosmetics and makeup have been known to contain gluten. A search of the medications listed in the National Library of Medicine Database reveals the word “wheat” listed in 11 records.
If that doesn’t sound so bad, consider that the word “starch” is listed in an incredible 8,379 medication records. That is concerning because the starch referred to could be wheat starch. If you see starch listed as an ingredient on your medication, there is an outside chance it could contain wheat.
Lip balm, moisturizers and lotions, beauty products and vitamin supplements, pickles, gravy and bouillon cubes may also contain gluten. Start reading the ingredient labels of the food you eat, and the cosmetics and medications you use. Remember, even if you don’t have a severe gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, this irritating, inflammatory protein can cause a number of unwelcome disturbances in your gastrointestinal tract and gut, so limiting how much you consume is probably a smart move.
In this video, Dr. Vikki Petersen talks about gluten intolerance and cross reactive foods: