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Gluten Free on The Go, Safe Eating for When You’re Away From Home

Mix hummus with vegetables
Mix hummus with vegetables
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

We know that following a diet that is gluten free is much easier than it used to be due to the changes in labeling for gluten free and the availability of gluten free products, we still need to make sure we are choosing foods that follow the strict guidelines.

While we always have the control over what happens in our own kitchen, we do not know what truly happens in the kitchens when eating away from home.

According to the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment, 18 million Americans currently have a gluten sensitivity, there are 3 million more who suffer from celiac disease, and the numbers are continually growing. Gluten, which is a naturally occurring protein that is found in things like wheat, barley, spelt and rye, seem to be commonly found in kitchen cabinets, stores, and restaurants everywhere. These are staples in the American diet. With the new wheat hybrids and the amount of products that contain gluten this has led to the increase in the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity and celiac. There is much greater awareness of these two conditions and doctors and patients alike are keeping closer notes to see if they have one of these conditions.

There was a time when going out for a gluten-free lunch was extremely difficult. While it is still best to pack your own meals, there are many options today available to you. Many restaurants have a gluten free menu, or at the least offer a variety of salads to choose from. There are some restaurants popping up around town that are vegetarian, vegan and even gluten free. It would make sense that there will be more specialty restaurants coming about as time moves forward. There are many questions to ask when eating out though. Be sure to check and see if they have a dedicated space in the kitchen for their gluten free meals to minimize cross contamination. Ask what is in their dressings, sauces, etc. to be sure that you are not ingesting gluten by mistake.

If you are unsure about eating out somewhere be prepared, pack some items or at least snack to hold you over until you can get a full meal. Cook extra dinner the night before and pack some up for lunch the next day, or some people cook for several days, pack up and freeze some meals to be eaten throughout the week. One can easily pack apples, applesauce, nuts, banana’s, fresh peanut butter or other nut butter for spreading on fruit and vegetables, carrots, celery, dry cereal, and granola are some good options.

Try and stick to as whole, natural, and fresh as possible to eliminate gluten in the diet and unwanted extra calories. Remember, just because it is gluten free does not mean it is fat free or the healthiest either. Many snacks are made with refined, unenriched grains and starches, which may taste good, but are not really the healthiest choices. Choose these types of items to have periodically.

Some great food ideas to take along with you may include:

  • Baked sweet potato chips or other vegetable chips
  • Certified gluten-free instant oatmeal, unsweetened
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Vegetables with hummus
  • Gluten free granola bars
  • Corn tortillas with fresh fillings
  • Fresh salads
  • Cooked quinoa or millet with dried fruit or fresh vegetables

There are many great choices available to you. By being prepared you will save yourself from potential risks of contamination with gluten. It’s easy to make these quick take-along meals and you can pack enough for several days in advance and have them ready to grab and go in the fridge. The easier it can be the better. This will enable you to stay on track with your gluten free lifestyle.