When I first went gluten free in 2005, I made a lot of mistakes, mostly at restaurants. I’d happily eat my supposedly gluten free restaurant meal and quickly find myself in the bathroom, or itching away at my skin like I did before I was gluten free.
In order to help you avoid making those same mistakes yourself, I want to give you a few tips about ordering food when you’re out.
Before I begin, I want to remind you that there’s a free Gluten Summit going on until this Sunday. The Summit has 29 interviews with the world’s most prominent gluten researchers and thought leaders, and it will blow your mind. It has blown mine, and I thought I knew a lot already ;) Check it out here for free.
My Number One Tip
If you have bad reactions to gluten, like so many other people, please don’t sacrifice your health and happiness in order to save your server a little time and effort. Be that person who asks “annoying” questions.
I’ve been that person at restaurants a LOT of times, and to be honest I’ve never been met with anything other than, “No, I don’t think it has flour in it, but I’ll check,” or something along those lines. And it only ends up taking a few extra minutes for them to check, and a few extra seconds while you’re ordering. Nobody’s held up and you’re way happier in the long-run.
There are a few foods at restaurants that I’ve learned are hidden sources of gluten. By that, I just mean that you wouldn’t necessarily expect there to be gluten in those particular things. Here they are…
Even though they just seem like they’d be made with water, veggies, meat, and maybe some cream, a lot of soups contain gluten. For instance, French Onion soup is usually made with flour as an ingredient to thicken it up. In fact, Applebee’s (to use an example of a popular chain restaurant) divulges that only one of their soups is wheat free–not even necessarily gluten free–and that’s their Tuscan Bean Soup with Chicken & Sausage.
Even Vegetable Soups often have some sort of pasta in them, which means they’re not gluten free. If the soup doesn’t have pasta, it may be thickened with flour. Or it may have soy sauce or some other gluten-containing condiment in it.
So ask your server to ask the cooks just to be sure. Better yet, ask for a gluten-free menu. Most restaurants have one these days.
2. Gravy and Other Sauces
Gravy and other sauces, including marinaras, and especially Asian sauces, may have gluten in them. Often it’s like the soups in that they’re thickened with flour, and sometimes it’s just soy sauce messing things up. Soy sauce is made with wheat and soy, FYI. A lot of Asian restaurants have wheat-free tamari as a substitute for soy sauce, and in my opinion they taste exactly the same.
3. French Fries and Sweet Potato Fries
You may think these things are just made with potatoes/sweet potatoes and oil, but often they’re dusted with flour to make them crispier. I remember my Paleo friend was so excited that Smashburger in Boulder had sweet potato fries, but then I looked up their allergen information and rained on her parade when I found out they contained gluten. I just looked again, though, and they must’ve changed their ingredients because they’re no longer made with flour.
The cool thing is that many restaurants really are catching on to the whole food allergies thing, so you can find allergen info on a lot of their websites.
So I hope this info helps you navigate restaurants a little better. The key takeaway here is ALWAYS ASK! Even if you feel silly asking.
How to Learn More About Gluten
If you want to learn more about gluten, where it’s hidden, how to avoid it, and how it can negatively affect your whole body, please please watch the free Gluten Summit this week. It ends on Sunday, November 17th, at which point you’ll need to pay to watch all these international experts tell you what they know.
So if you or anyone you know has intestinal problems, autoimmune disorders, cognitive or emotional problems, skin issues, joint inflammation, weight problems, or heart disease, you need to watch these super informative videos on how gluten could be causing these problems. Causing them – not just contributing to them!