If you are a person who follows a gluten-free diet religiously, rejoice. You’re born in a generation where the culinary world is highly inclusive.
That’s right, staying gluten-free has never been easier!
Earlier, people with celiac disease, who had to strictly avoid any glutinous ingredients, had to prepare their food at home. Doesn’t sound that bad, right? Now imagine having limited cooking experience and making the same dish, again and again, every night.
Doesn’t sound so appetizing anymore, does it?
Fortunately, that is no longer the case. If you want to dine out while staying perfectly gluten-free, you have the option to do so.
But, wait – you have to be careful. It’s not going to be perfect for you; after all, you’re still a minority. There are some things that you’ll need to factor in before you have a completely perfect gluten-free meal outside the confines of your home.
The 7 Most Important Rules for Eating Out and Staying Gluten-Free
The restaurant industry nowadays is pretty progressive. It’s not that hard to come by an eatery that features specific dishes for gluten-free customers.
However, that does not eliminate all the problems.
For instance, most of the time, eating gluten-laced food like hamburgers or pork chops by mistake is not the problem. There could be other issues, like cross-contamination between the two types of foods resulting in an impure mixture. The latter is still glutinous enough to harm people with celiac disease, often leading to inflamed or swollen intestines.
To avoid such a situation, here’s what you can do:
1. Take your time looking for the perfect restaurant
The first tip? Always plan ahead.
Even if you’re the most spontaneous person in existence, you cannot have the same kind of carefree attitude while selecting a specific gluten-free restaurant.
Opwyn Dalton from Fitness Unicorn suggests the following points:
- Avoid fast-food restaurants. Even if they have gluten-free options, the pace of their service makes it difficult to avoid cross-contamination with other dishes.
- Avoid foreign restaurants where the language barrier with the wait staff could be an issue. They might not be able to understand your requirements and commit a fatal error.
- Go for fine dining establishments. They are generally less crowded and better staffed. They will take care of every specific requirement you have.
- The chefs and cooks in a fine dining restaurant will have the culinary knowledge to deal with non-gluten foods.
After filtering in these points, you can shortlist some restaurants that can meet your requirements. From there, you can move to our second tip.
2. Call ahead of the schedule
Once you figure out the names of the restaurants you can reach out to them personally.
It would be better if you get first-hand assurance from the restaurant itself that they will be able to cater to your requirements. Tell them about your specific needs and check if they have all the gluten-free options available on the day of the booking.
You can speak to the front-of-the-house staff or request them to direct the conversation to the chef. Either way, it’s always a good idea to check in with the restaurant itself.
The internet might have reliable information, but they’re not always entirely accurate.
3. Choose your dining time carefully
We know, it sounds like a lot to ask, but choosing your time as per your dietary restrictions is important.
Even the most remarkable of restaurants could fail to meet your requirements if they are flustered in a moment of rush. Mistakes happen when the chefs have their plates full, no pun intended.
Thus, it’s always a good idea to check in at a time when the restaurant will neither be fully empty nor will it be too crowded. For that, the number one tip is to either dine early or eat out late.
Figure out the “rush hour” of the particular restaurant and arrive at least an hour before that period. You can place your order and start enjoying your meal by the time a larger crowd rushes in for their dinner plans.
On the other hand, you can also tune in after all the demanding customers have left, and the restaurant is only mildly crowded. This will also be a relaxing experience as there’s nothing more serene than a restaurant that’s about to close business for the day.
4. Have a chat with the manager or the chef
Let me get one thing straight – the wait staff of all (or most, depending on your experiences) restaurants are absolutely delightful.
Most of the time, they will do everything in their power to ensure that your food gets delivered exactly the way you asked. But sometimes, mistakes do happen. They, after all, do not hold any culinary expertise.
As such, it is always better to speak to the manager or the chef before you place your order. Make sure that you tell them about the importance of being served only pure gluten-free food. As it is the responsibility of the manager to entertain special requests, they will make sure that everyone involved – the chef, the cooks, and the waiters – will do everything right without failure.
5. Talk about cross-contamination issues
As we mentioned, most restaurants nowadays do have gluten-free options. But people with that specific requirement still steer clear of dining out.
Because of a little (read, major) issue called gluten cross-contamination. Sometimes, when a dish is harmful to a person, it’s not because the food that was served actually had glutinous ingredients in it.
What happens is that busy restaurants often have to use the same surface, utensils, and cookery items for different kinds of dishes to save time. When that happens, there is slight contamination and the gluten-free food is infested with some remnants of gluten ingredients.
For instance, if the cooks prepare a gluten-free dish using the same fryer which they used for making hamburgers, the food that you’ll be served will not be purely gluten-free. Such dishes are harmful and their consumption can lead to multiple complications for people with celiac disease.
6. Confirm your order
Once you receive your food, it is always safer to confirm if the dish is purely gluten-free. We know that you don’t want to be “that” customer, but sometimes it’s just too important to ignore.
You can phrase out your inquiry politely as well. Go for something like – “Hey, could you please confirm if this dish is purely gluten-free? I know I’ve mentioned my requirements beforehand, but I’d feel a lot better if you could reassure me again!”
See? Just a simple, pleasant, innocuous question – nothing more!
The need to do this becomes even more prominent when the restaurant assigns a different server to deliver your order. In such cases, you cannot ignore this tip at all.
7. Having doubts? Stay in
Last but also perhaps the most important tip is to cancel your plans if you are unsure of anything.
Nothing is more important than having a meal that is safe for your system and principles. If you, at any point in time, feel that the restaurant might not be able to meet your requirements, you can simply opt to not eat there.
If you are feeling jittery about the notion of dining out while maintaining a gluten-free diet, just stay in until you feel comfortable.
Letting go of doubts and enjoying the rapidly progressing culinary experience is a process. It will take a little bit of time to adjust to the new world, but the wait will be worth it.
Best Gluten-Free Dishes to have in the United States
Still think that a gluten-free diet leads to restrictions? Move ahead, it’s 2022.
Here are some of the most flavorful gluten-free dishes that you can enjoy in any popular restaurant located in the United States:
- Mushroom carbonara
- Grilled salmon with chickpeas
- Thai-themed tofu with butternut squash
- Shrimp along with a flavorful and spicy sauce
- Roast chicken, mixed with vegetables and fall spices
- Chicken “fried” in the oven along with a spinach salad.
- Seared beef served on top of peanut noodles
- Sautéed pork chops served with a kale salad
- Macaroni and cheese served with sage and chard breadcrumbs
- Honey mustard glaze salmon with grilled asparagus
- Baked chicken served with tomatoes and veggies
- Margarita chicken
Sounds mouth-watering? It is.
Gluten-free people have nothing to worry about. They have more than enough options to keep their tummy happy, content, and satisfied.
Enjoy your Dessert
So that brings us to the last part of this article for gluten-free folk.
While eating out and maintaining a steadfast gluten-free diet is an option nowadays, it requires constant vigilance. Maybe it could prove to be a bit of extra work for you as a customer, but you must eat well and healthily.
That being said, all this writing and researching about food has made us hungry. Do give this article another whirl while we push in a quick dinner!
Article Submitted By Community Writer