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Thinking About Eating Out Gluten Free? Let's Make It Easy And Fun!
Gluten Free Dining:
I like eating great food. I love spending time with my friends and family. And traditionally, in our society, we meet up and see each other at food-oriented places. It could be a restaurant, a café or at best a juice bar.
So how can we make it easier for ourselves, I mean us, gluten freeks, to be able to do the same? Let’s figure this out and find great gluten free restaurants or at least find places that can accommodate us.
Ideally, it would be wiser and healthier to be meeting at Yoga spots, sport centers, parks and meditation retreats. But since it’s not yet realistic, let’s get to the bottom of all gluten free dining choices and options.
I was thinking about it for a while. And I came up with a few ways or methods that worked for my family and many of my clients.
The first thing you would want to do is educate yourself on what foods are gluten free:
Typically, gluten free means staying away from wheat, rye, kamut, spelt, barley and most likely oats. More on what foods are gluten free here.
And of course, when choosing an appropriate gluten free restaurant you should think twice before going to a conventional bagel or pancake place, even if they wouldoffer you a gluten free version of a pizza or bagel. Why?.. Because there’s a very high chance of cross-contamination.
Many people don’t realize that cross-contamination with gluten is a big concern. For a person with true gluten intolerance; a speck of gluten could trigger an inflammatory response. These people should be extra careful with their food. But hidden gluten can be a big problem, too. Many foods that you would normally consider without gluten can, in fact, have wheat ingredients. One of the most common types of hidden gluten food is conventional soy sauce. Most restaurants have soy sauce that has wheat inside.
Eating out gluten free: The next thing to do is start asking around. Look for gluten free restaurant reviews, sign up for gluten free blogs or sites, like this one :)).
You can go to your favorite restaurant and discuss your situation. Many restaurants now try to accommodate you.
Another “secret” in getting truly gluten free meal from a conscience chef is tell the waiter that you haveALLERGY to gluten. No decent restaurant wants to deal with an allergic reaction right there. I use this trick all the time. And I don’t feel bad about saying “allergy” even though it’s really not a true allergy. The reason I don’t feel bad about it is because it’s hard for most waiters to understand gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, gluten free and just simply gluten. I need to say something that will make them alert. And the word “allergy” usually does the trick.
Gluten Free Dinner:
The rule of thumb is this: the simpler your ingredients are, the less chance for cross-contamination with gluten. So knowing that many chain restaurants will use processed ingredients you can realize that these restaurants should not be your first choices. Unless the meals are marked on the menu as 100% certified gluten free meals.
I also spend some time explaining what gluten is to the waiter sometimes. I don’t blame them for not knowing. If I see that there’s no way to get through I simply leaveand I don’t feel bad about that either. It’s my health, after all!
Great Gluten Free Dinner Choices:
When you are unsure, try placing the safest bet for your gluten free dinner. Go with safer choices like steamed or grilled fish, meat or chicken. No sauce, no dressing, no marinades, please. And on the side, you could ask for a salad without dressing or grilled vegetables without sauces. Ask the waiter, to give you oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice as your salad dressing and you could use it for veggies as well.
It gets harder for vegetarians since most soy burgers have wheat flour inside. But you can use the same methods and ask for grilled vegetables without sauces and dressings.
Eating out gluten free should be fun and it should be easy. So make it a game for your family. Something like an I spy game for them. Ask your kids to look at your waiter. Ask them if the waiter looks like he or she is paying attention to what you are saying. That’s 5 points. You need 20 points to win the game called: ”eating out gluten free”. Next, be VERY SPECIFIC and ASSERTIVE when placing your order. That’s 5 more points. Then, ask the waiter if he explained EVERYTHING to the chef. That’s 5 more points. When you get order, double check and ask again: Was my order prepared gluten free? That’s last 5 points and you win the game:”eating out gluten free”. It makes my kids happy to participate and it makes them more independent, which is a good thing, right? Oh, I hope so.
Don’t be shy to leave the restaurant if you feel uncomfortable. Your family comes first.
I hope you have fun eating out gluten free!! And I wish you great health!
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