Today we’re going to talk about another big topic that can frequently get the better of us when we’re making a lifestyle change: Eating out! It can be tricky in the beginning, but once you get the hang of what menu items to look for and what questions to ask, you’ll have no trouble navigating restaurant situations.
We’ll also talk a bit about navigating other social events as well as the sneaky places gluten is likely to lurk.
Let’s now look at how to navigate eating out with real food. It really comes down to asking questions of your server. Don’t worry about being a pest or being annoying. You are paying an establishment for a meal and there is no shame in asking questions to ensure that what you eat will serve your health, not detract from it.
Step 1: Ask if the establishment has a gluten free menu. Frequently this will include a subset of the regular menu items with instructions to omit a side or a dressing in lieu of a gluten free alternative.
Step 2: If the place where you’re dining doesn’t offer a gluten free menu, no worries. You can still often find something that will fit within the Real-Food ood framework. At most any restaurant you can usually find protein (eggs, meat, fish) and veggies. But you’ll always want to ask about soups, seasonings, marinades and sauces. Those four categories often have gluten lurking amongst the ingredients.
The good news is that it’s really easy to navigate all of this. Just ask the server! Seriously, so many people have food allergies these days that servers and waitstaff are typically quite familiar with these types of questions.
Here’s an example of how it might work to order a breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a restaurant:
Me: I’d like the Denver Omelette, no cheese, please. And would it be possible to get a side of grilled veggies instead of the hash browns?
Server: Sure, what kind of toast would you like?
Me: No toast, thank you.
Server: Would you like fruit or sliced tomatoes instead?
Me: Sure, I’d love the tomatoes, thank you. (Of course, you could also choose the fruit, but remember to limit yourself to 1 serving if fat loss is your primary goal).
Me: I’d like the bison burger without the bun, and a side of avocado, please.
Server: French fries or potato salad?
Me: Can I do green side salad instead?
Server: Sure, what dressing would you like?
Me: Oil and vinegar. And can you be sure to leave off the croutons if it comes with them? I’m allergic to gluten.
Server: Yep, I’ll put a note on the ticket.
Me: I’m interested in the rack of ribs. Do you know if the rub is gluten free?
Server: Let me check, I’ll be right back.
My wife: Can you also check if there is any breading on the fish of the day? And if so, can it be prepared grilled without the breading?
Server: Absolutely, I’ll go ask.
Server: I just spoke with the chef, the rub is gluten free, but the bbq sauce contains gluten. And as for the fish it can definitely be prepared grilled without the breading.
Me: Ok, I’ll do the ribs with no bbq sauce please. And I’ll skip the fries and do the sweet potato and grilled veggies for the sides.
My wife: And I’ll do the grilled fish, with grilled veggies for the side.
That was three meals, a handful of questions, and happy customers. Easy peasy. You can do this!
The sneaky places gluten can be found hiding
Gluten doesn’t just lurk in obvious items like bread and cookies. Keep an eye out and be aware of the following common gluten containing items:
Soy sauce: a super common offender. Soy sauce is brewed with wheat. Unless the bottle specifically states “gluten free tamari” stear clear.
Modified food starch: another sneaky item frequently found in sauces, dips and even sour cream that often is gluten containing.
Rubs: frequently these include gluten or other gluten containing items like modified food starch.
Soups: Always ask if they’re gluten free. Frequently flour is added as a thickener.
Sauces, glazes: Always ask if they’re gluten free. Frequently these contain flour, soy sauce or both.
Salads: Always explicitly ask if there are croutons. Blue Cheese crumbles and dressings typically contain gluten. If your salad contains chicken or fish be sure to ask if it is breaded.
Tomorrow we’ll look at another lifestyle topic that has a huge ENORMOUS impact on health.