For many people with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eating out in restaurants used to be, well, intolerable. However, as public knowledge and awareness of gluten intolerance and Celiac disease has grown, gluten free restaurants are opening all over the United States. Even better news for those with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance is that as gluten free diets become more common, an increasing number of mainstream restaurants are offering gluten free menus and/or information about allergens such as gluten on their standard menu.
According to the NIH, Celiac disease may affect 1 in every 133 people in the United States. Gluten intolerance is far more common– affecting as many as 1 in 7– and gluten sensitivity is thought to be even more pervasive. In addition, gluten free diets are often recommended for other diseases and conditions such ADD, ADHD, insulin dependent diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and autism spectrum disorder.
Even if you do not have Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, chances are a loved one or acquaintance is on a gluten free diet. Luckily, it has become much easier to find restaurants where you can all eat out together without driving miles to go to a strictly gluten free restaurant.
How to find a gluten free restaurant in your area.
The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America runs a website that is an excellent source of information on Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America also sponsors the Gluten Free Awareness Program.
A list of gluten free restaurants participating in the Gluten Free Awareness program is available here.
Another good source of information on gluten free restaurants in your area is local Celiac disease and gluten intolerance support groups. An internet search using Google, Yahoo, Bing or your favorite search engine is a good way to find local support groups. You might also want to ask the same doctor who diagnosed your Celiac disease or gluten intolerance if he or she can put you in touch with a local support group.
An excellent source of information on Celiac disease and gluten intolerance in general, local support groups in both the US and worldwide, and gluten free restaurants is Celiac.com. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America is also a good resource for local support groups for those living with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.
How to find restaurants with gluten free menus.
Many restaurants, including many national and regional chains, have developed gluten free menus. Restaurants that have developed special menus for their patrons suffering from a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease are theoretically good choices from eating out, because they are more likely to be aware of hidden sources of gluten and the need to avoid cross contamination in cooking.
Once again, the search engine is your friend when it comes to eating gluten free at restaurants in your area. Search for gluten free restaurant or gluten free restaurant menus.
Aside from local favorites, national and regional chains with gluten free menus include Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, First Watch, Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, PF Chang’s, Outback Steakhouse and Pei Wei Asian Diner.
Other ways to eat out on a gluten free diet.
Many restaurants that do not have special gluten free menus will be happy to modify their existing menu if you ask. You may want to call ahead first.
Finally, many restaurants, especially national chains, have posted both nutritional information and allergen information online. Some national chains that have done so include Arby’s, Chili’s, Macaroni Grill, O’Charley’s, PF Changs, Steak & Shake, Subway and Wendy’s.
Sources and Resources
Gluten Intolerance Group of North America
Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program