Drs Investigate Gluten Free Dining
Make Sure Your Order's REALLY Gluten-Free
You've probably noticed two words popping up on more menus recently: gluten and free. In fact, celiac-friendly food is a big money-maker;gluten-free takeout orders have spiked by almost 60 percent since April 2012, according to a recent analysis of orders placed on GrubHub, a food ordering site.
The year-over-year analysis looked at orders placed at more than 20,000 restaurants in 500-plus cities across the U.S. The spike doesn't exactly come as a surprise, considering that about one in three people say they're cutting back on gluten or completely eliminating it from their diet, according to a survey that came out earlier this year. In addition to the huge increase overall, analysts also found that women are close to 50 percent more likely to make their takeout orders gluten-free than men are.
Of course, most of the people trying to avoid gluten aren't doing it because they actually have an adverse reaction when they eat it (surely you've met someone who's trying to lose weight on a gluten-free diet). But for the estimated 2.5 million Americans with celiac disease and the other 20 million with gluten sensitivities, making sure that your takeout hasn't even come into contact with the protein is key to keeping your digestive system happy and healthy. Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, author ofThe Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide, offers these tips for ensuring that when you ask for a gluten-free dish, it actually gets to you that way:
Don't assume a restaurant is safe just because it has a gluten-free menuIt's better to err on the side of caution, says Thompson: Ask about the kitchen's protocols for preventing cross-contamination. Restaurants should be using separate cooking tools to minimize the chances of your food touching anything that contains gluten.
Be extra careful with certain itemsFoods that share a fryer with anything breaded can be particularly troublesome; you should always ask about the prep methods for French fries, tortilla chips, corn tortillas, and taco shells—not that that's a comprehensive list, says Thompson. Soups, broths, and sauces can also be common gluten-hiding culprits since many places thicken them with flour.
Always read condiment labelsWhile you may know that certain items like malt vinegar are always off-limits, other sauces like soy sauce and salad dressing can also contain wheat—so it pays to be extra vigilant with these. Ketchup, mayonnaise, and plain yellow mustard are usually safe, but it's always a good idea to read the full ingredient list before you use them. The danger words you're looking out for: wheat, barley, malt, rye, oats, brewer's yeast, and yeast extract.
If you're not ordering from a gluten-free menu,plainis the key wordYour best bets here are items like plain grilled chicken or fish, making sure clean food prep tools are used and asking the cook to skip any sort of crumb topping. For a side, go with something like steamed vegetables or a baked potato. "This sounds boring I know," says Thompson.
Video: Is Your Food Really Gluten Free? Use This Device to Find Out
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