This May, celebrate National Celiac Awareness Month with a stress-free, nutritious and delicious gluten-free dining out experience!
In honor of National Celiac Awareness Month, which takes place every year in May, today we have a special guest post by Nicole Cogan, founder of NoBread.com, a website to give restaurant diners a convenient resource for ordering gluten free. If you’re following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, Nicole has 5 tips to help you have a stress-free, enjoyable dining experience without fear of getting sick.
Note: gluten-free diets are quite popular these days, with many people using it as a weight loss diet. While cutting out foods with gluten may lead to weight loss, packaged gluten-free foods often have more calories than what you’re replacing. Here are two great posts by fellow RDs that explain why you should be wary of going on a gluten-free diet unless it’s medically necessary: Ever Considered a Gluten-Free Diet? Here’s what You Should Know and Gluten Free: Dietary Disaster or Delight?
Now, without further ado, here’s Nicole!
Eating out on a gluten-free diet can be difficult, especially when most restaurants do not have clear nutritional and allergen facts available. These tips will help you stick to your diet and help you avoid gluten on your next dining outing!
- Tell your server about your allergy/diet-needs before ordering anything.This might seem like a no-brainer, but your server may not be aware of the gluten free (GF) menu options! Also, gluten has a sneaky way of finding itself in your meal. For example, ordering a simple grilled vegetable salad may seem like a safe call, but salad dressing is a common gluten culprit, and breadcrumbs and croutons may be added for a little extra crunch!
- Choose the right restaurant. The rising popularity of the gluten-free diet has led to a wave of restaurants that cater to GF dining needs. In order to avoid complication, choose a restaurant that prides itself on its gluten-free menu options. This way, you won’t have to ask a million questions and you can trust that your dish was made according to your gluten-free requests!
- Look up the restaurant online beforehand. These days, every restaurant has some kind of online presence. Most have yelp reviews, a website, and may even be featured on my site NOBREAD.com. In addition to gluten-free restaurant menus, NOBREAD.com offers extremely helpful information including restaurant profiles, NOBREAD gluten free facts such as if that restaurant has cross contamination, gluten free pasta, gluten free bread etc., photos of dishes, and mini reviews in which I give recommendations of which “NOBREAD” items to order. You may even find reviews from other people who are gluten-free that will help guide you in your meal decisions.
- Know your grains. Obviously wheat has gluten, so most breads and pastas are a no-go unless they are specified gluten-free. Yet other grains can be harder to identify. Know which grains to avoid, such as barley, rye, couscous, orzo, and bran. Also know which grains are safe, like quinoa, rice (non-malted), buckwheat, and corn. Knowing this information will make it easier to sort through a menu and will help you pick out potential substitutions (like choosing corn tortillas over flour).
- Order simply. Sometimes you may have to order something simple and not take any risks. The meat/fish covered in gravy and sauce may sound amazing, but a simply grilled chicken breast (or fish) with vegetables can be just as delicious when flavored with the right spices. Playing it safe is always smart, especially when dining with a group!
NOBREAD.COM is a website that offers a guide to gluten free menu options at NYC-based restaurants. Founder and CEO, Nicole Cogan, launched NOBREAD in September 2014 as a result of a health condition that forced her to live a gluten free lifestyle. With over 350 restaurants included, the website features customized gluten free menus along with restaurant profiles and mini-reviews, giving people suffering from gluten allergies and sensitivities the ability to maintain a ‘normal’ New York lifestyle and access to customized gluten free menus at some of New York’s hottest restaurants. Starting this May, NoBread is launching in Los Angeles with further plans to expand to other major cities around the US including San Francisco and South Florida.
For more gluten-free recipes and tips, check out these Nutritioulicious posts: