Many people follow Paleo and gluten free diets free diets because they have health issues that are exacerbated by eating gluten which makes traveling a challenge. The reason I am careful is because I have an autoimmune thyroid condition that is flared up by eating gluten, meaning my body attacks itself which makes eating on the road a challenge. I am very careful to follow a grain free not just gluten free diet at all times to lower risk and enhance my health. It is also important to pay attention to food quality (as much as possible) to keep your tummy happy. Sometimes ordering at a restaurant with gluten intolerance can be a stressful experience. By pre-planning you can enjoy your travels and stay healthy on the road.
|Need help staying gluten grain free on the road? photo credit|
Plan Ahead and Be Aware:
1. Tell the manager: Alert the management of your gluten allergy. Calling ahead can help the staff prepare.
2. Check current menu: Be aware of current changes or status of the gluten-free menu at the place you are eating.
3. Educate your server: Be friendly and help your server understand what gluten is (the hard to digest in protein in wheat, barley or rye and contaminated oats). Your server is your ally to make sure the kitchen staff uses fresh gloves, bowls and utensils for serving or preparing your food. Also check if they have a dedicated fryer (ideally avoid fried foods-See #6). Be aware of gluten crumbs falling into big containers of lettuce, cheese, or salsa for example. Mustard, ketchup, and certain types of vinegar can also have hidden gluten (and sugar) so ask to read the labels. Gluten Free Card is a helpful tool you can show your server to help them understand in almost any language.
4. Gluten free grains are still problematic: Just because something is gluten free does not mean it is healthy. Grains are very hard to digest because they contain toxic molds and have mineral binding phytates which can further irritate a person with gluten intolerance or autoimmunity. Ingredients made with grains are much more likely to be contaminated with gluten. People with celiac or autoimmune diseases usually have nutrient absorption issues and an inflamed small intestines. Continuing to eat grains further aggravates the gut lining preventing a person from getting adequate nutrients from food to rebuild their health.
5. Food quality matters: Corn-fed beef is more likely to be contaminated with E-coli has an imbalanced ratio of inflammatory Omega-6 to beneficial omega-3 fats when compared with grass fed beef. Factory farmed chicken/beef is likely full of pesticides and antibiotics which can make us sicker and fatter. Pesticides and fungicides on fruit/ vegetables can build up in us causing hormone disruption and weight gain. Beans (including soybeans) are also a problem because they have anti-nutrients that can be extremely hard to breakdown causing more digestive issues. People with gluten sensitivity are usually stressed out and depleted meaning lower quality food can exacerbate their health issues. Hear a great podcast about this issue here.
6. Toxic seed oils: Another important concern when eating out is avoiding vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, canola, safflower and cottonseed oils which are heated/oxidized during processing which causes inflammation in the arteries and small intestine when eaten. These are also made from genetically modified crops that have never been proven safe. These tainted oils are commonly used in restaurant cooking because they are so cheap. It is common to find rancid oils (and gmo sugar) in mayo (even the olive oil kind), salad dressing and sauces. Get a good guide to which fats to eat here. I try to ask my server if they can cook my food in real butter or get it grilled. For grilling ask them to wire brush the grill first and ask about the gluten grill policy.
7. Listen to you intuition: If an establishment where you want to eat seems to good to be true. It probably is. If you do not get a good feeling about their adherence to gluten free safety guidelines head for the door.
7. Get your own kitchen: While traveling I try to rent a hotel room with a kitchen or stay in a rental from Airbnb or VRBO so I can cook for myself. Also Residence Inn by Marriott has nice fully equipped kitchens. You can shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or eatwild.com to find good farmers markets wherever you are.
|Protein Style at In and Out Burger
Chain Restaurants with Gluten Free Offerings:
The Counter: This place has humanely raised no antibiotic beef that can be served exactly how you like it. You can even write your own order by circling toppings on a notepad. They are very helpful about avoiding gluten when I went there in LA.
|Get Fajitas without marinade at Chevy’s|
Chipotle: Always a favorite on the road salad bowl with double meat with guacamole is my favorite. They source humane meats and with the carnitas being soybean oil free! Ask the server to use clean gloves when making your burrito(less) bowl.
|Gluten Free Fare at Flemings photo credit|
Outback Steakhouse: Gluten free menu featuring succulent seafood and steaks.
Flemings: Has a gluten free menu available. Prime rib with horseradish cream anyone?
Logan’s Roadhouse : The menu says they have options listed and to ask management at each location.
Chili’s: I wasn’t too excited about Chili’s after reading The End of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler, all about flavor engineering. But they do have a gluten free menu.
Applebee’s: I am not a fan but if you have no other choice and are really in the middle of nowhere. They do have allergen info you can download from their website.
Pei Wei: This place is a cousin of P.F. Chang. It has a really good gluten free menu. I have had the Vietnamese lettuce wraps minus the peanuts, rice noodles, and sugary sauces. You can ask for your food to be cooked in broth which is better than soybean oil. Bring your own coconut amino’s for flavor.
Legal Seafood: They have 49 gluten free options at this east coast chain!
|Mixed Grille at Olive Garden|
Magianno’s: Has a gluten free menu also, read more about how the executive chef can customize dishes for gluten free diners.
Carabba’s: This regional favorite has ingredients straight from Italy. Be sure to ask for meats without the grill baste. The Marsala sirloin looks wonderful with prosciutto mushrooms and wine sauce.
Macaroni Grill: The Pollo Caprese with arugula and Pomodoro sauce is making me hungry. They even have a make your own option where you can pick your own meat/veg/sauce for a grain free dish.
Mello Mushroom: I am not sure how a place can be gluten free when they are throwing flour into the air, but that is what the gluten free menu says. I am not a big fan of gluten free pizza save it for your birthday if you must. Try a cauliflower crust at home like this one for less gut disruption.
Olive Garden: This menu looks first class with lots of pictures. The mixed grill is calling my name (Grassfedgirl eat me!). I just don’t know if I could stand the temptation of the ridiculous unlimited circulating bread baskets. Aren’t Americans fat enough?