How to Eat out With a Gluten Allergy

Individuals with allergies to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye, are susceptible to all types of health issues if this protein is accidentally ingested. The intestines and other organs of individuals with gluten allergies may stop absorbing necessary nutrients when exposed to gluten. This can result in fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, cramping and other serious conditions. Individuals with a gluten allergy who do not eliminate wheat products from their diet may eventually experience complete destruction of their GI tract. If you have a gluten allergy, but still want to enjoy a night out at a restaurant, there are certain steps that you can take to ensure that you do not risk your health at your favorite restaurant.


  1. Image titled Eat out With a Gluten Allergy Step 1
    Research the restaurants in your area by visiting restaurant websites. Many restaurants are discovering the need to accommodate individuals with gluten allergies. Especially in the United States, where Celiac disease affects one in one hundred consumers, some restaurants have special menus that are free of gluten or gluten-containing food products.
    • Visit the websites of restaurants in question to see if there is information about gluten free meal options. Some restaurants post gluten free meals on their websites so that customers can peruse the options before visiting the restaurant.
  2. Image titled Eat out With a Gluten Allergy Step 2
    Contact the management at restaurants to inquire about special menu options or customized meals. Many restaurant owners are willing to accommodate special food needs such as allergies in order to increase customer patronage.
    • Explain, if necessary, the restrictions required for individuals with a gluten allergy. Often, consumers with gluten allergies print off short informational statements that can be easily communicated to a restaurant manager or owner who is unfamiliar with Celiac disease. Explaining the severity of a Celiac's bodily reaction to gluten will help to convince a restaurant owner that this is a serious medical condition.
    • Carry a list with you of foods that are prohibited for individuals with Celiac disease. Not only is it a handy reference for you, but it may also be helpful to give the restaurant owner or manager.
  3. Image titled Eat out With a Gluten Allergy Step 3
    Carefully review the menu of the restaurant at which you are eating before selecting which meal you will order. Many restaurants offer helpful descriptions of the menu item in question so guests can evaluate the various ingredients to determine if they are safe.
    • Choose a menu item which does not contain any wheat products. If you are unsure about a particular menu item, you should ask your waiter or a member of the management staff for a detailed ingredient list and information about preparation methods. Most restaurants are able to provide this information upon request.
    • Look for indicator words such as breaded, fried, toasted, or crispy which may indicate the use of flour or another type of breading. Again, if you are unsure whether or not flour has been used, ask a manager or waiter. Instead of foregoing an entire menu item, you may be able to request that the item be altered to suit your needs. For example, a breaded chicken entrĂ©e can be requested without the breading, etc.
  4. Image titled Eat out With a Gluten Allergy Step 4
    Ask if substitutions can be made on certain menu items. For example, if pizza is on the menu, ask if the cooking staff can substitute a gluten free crust for the typically offered crust. Similarly, instead of a bread crumb coating on fish or chicken, ask if the bread crumbs can be substituted with gluten-free oats.


  • Contact your local Celiac support group or a local dietician for lists of restaurants which offer gluten free options. Many Celiac support groups have already performed significant community research so that you will not have to.
  • Call the restaurant several days ahead of time for an initial communication about options for individuals with a gluten allergy. Then, call on the day that you are planning to visit the restaurant to remind the current manager that you will be dining at that restaurant in the evening.
  • In some situations, you may be able to bring certain food items from home. For example, instead of ignoring the basket of rolls and garlic butter offered at your favorite restaurant, you can bring your own gluten free rolls from home and still sample the butter offered by the restaurant.
  • Always be polite, but do not hesitate to communicate the seriousness of Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. Many individuals have never heard of gluten or a sensitivity to this protein. Succinctly explain the side effects and the potential health hazards of consuming gluten, while communicating with a restaurant's management staff.


  • An allergy to gluten is not to be confused with Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a slowly progressing intestinal reaction to gluten. A gluten allergy is a histamine response with immediate and unpleasant side effects.
  • It is wise for individuals with a gluten allergy to avoid any menu item that is prepared with a cream sauce or gravy. Some restaurants use flour as a thickening agent in creamy sauces or gravies made with meat drippings. Even a small amount of flour can be potentially dangerous for Celiac disease sufferers.
  • Be wary of cross contamination. Items such as condiments and sauces may have residue from wheat-based products in them if clean utensils are not used each time the condiment is used.

Article Info

Categories: Dining Out | Allergies and Immunization