Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How To Start Eating Gluten Free-Traveling

Eating out is the area I struggle most in with eating gluten free. Well, and not being able to eat Krispy Kreme donuts. Or Oreos. But I digress….

I am very sensitive to gluten and I just don’t trust other people not to accidentally contaminate my food. I am always afraid that they will put my hamburger on a bun and then remember I ordered it without a bun and just take it off and serve it to me. I always wonder if chicken nuggets or onion rings have been cooked in the same fryer as the french fries.

When I was in the hospital to have Doodlebug I was offered fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, neither of which was gluten free, even though we specified all food had to be gluten free. My salad arrived with croutons on it too.

All said, I am very suspicious and always concerned when I have to eat out. I have found a couple of tricks that make traveling a little easier though.

Before going on any type of a road trip I make sure I know a few things I can eat at several fast food restaurants. I know I can walk into any Wendy’s order chili and a Frosty and my food should be gluten free. If I know things I can eat at several places it give me, and those traveling with me, a lot more choices. Most fast food places have menus that list food allergens online and I check these to make sure I am up to date. I have also printed out a few and stuck them in the car so I have the information when I need it. Although it’s available online I have not had much luck in getting this information while actually in a fast food restaurant.

I also make note of chain restaurants that have gluten free menus. Bonefish Grill, Carrabas, Outback Steakhouse and P.F. Changs all have gluten free menus if you ask for them. I personally feel more comfortable eating in places that have gluten free menus as the staff seems to be more knowledgeable of gluten and how to avoid it.

My other traveling trick is to carry my own food. I don’t always need it, but if I get caught somewhere I feel a lot better knowing that I have something that is safe for me to eat. In a restaurant a plain baked potato or a salad without croutons and dressed with vinegar and oil is usually available and is enough to get me through the meal, but I will probably want a little something later.

In my view, eating out is generally not worth the risk and I almost always choose to eat at home instead, but there are a lot of people who do eat out on a regular basis and are much more adept at explaining how to handle their food to the restaurant in such a way as to not contaminate it with gluten. If any of my readers fall into this category and have tips to add I would love to hear them.

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