This is why eating out gluten-free can be challenging

This is why eating out gluten-free can be challenging

When you’re ordering out and need to avoid gluten, it’s as simple as ordering the gluten-free option on the menu, right?

Not always.

Eating out can be tricky for people with celiac disease who need to avoid gluten to avoid serious health consequences.

It’s true: Restaurants often advertise dishes without gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

The complication can come with cross-contamination, says Carrie Ek, a pediatric nutritionist and coordinator at the Pediatric Celiac Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

For example, a gluten-free food can pick up gluten when it’s cooked in the same fryer previously used to cook an item that contains gluten. Or if water used to cook pasta is used to cook a gluten-free food, it also could become contaminated.

“It’s like a minefield for people,” Ek says.

But it’s not impossible.

Resources exist online where people can recommend good gluten-free restaurants. And Ek points to tips from the Beyond Celiac group that can help people who want to eat out. Among those tips:

  • Call ahead and look online before going to a restaurant.
  • When talking to a server, be detailed. Ask about all ingredients.
  • Double check once your meal comes, and compliment the staff if your meal is truly gluten-free.

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  1. I wish more places were allergy friendly. I can hardly eat at work as an employee, and going out is super difficult. I am glad you are sharing awareness. Thank you!

  2. Yes. Ask about ingredients. I was surprised to learn that my go-to scrambled eggs is not always safe. IHOP uses pancake batter to fluff up the eggs. Talking with the wait person helped avoid this problem since they were able to make the eggs without the hidden gluten containing batter.

  3. I have a celiac son with minimal symptoms, so it is impossible to know when he has been glutened. We use the Find Me Gluten Free App that shares previous patrons ratings and comments to find places that are safest to eat.

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About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.