So you’ve decided to go gluten-free because you have a gluten intolerance, celiac disease, or simply want to reap the advantages of a gluten-free diet. Even if you’ve sworn off gluten-containing meals, the people around you are likely not on board.

You don’t want to deny an invitation to Colorado’s newest bakery or restaurant, but the dread of inflammation, straying off your gluten-free diet, or a flare-up of your celiac disease has you thinking about how to go about it.

When you know you’ll have an unpleasant “digestive episode” that takes months to recover if you consume a crumb of gluten, you have to be extremely cautious.

It takes practice to learn how to eat gluten-free in restaurants. So we’ve compiled a list of ways you can avoid gluten in restaurants to help you feel comfortable when placing your next order.

Do your research

The best approach to finding gluten-free restaurants is to read blog entries made by people who have gluten concerns and have already checked them. These people are going through the same challenges as you and are very careful with their recommendations. Another nice approach is to install gluten-free apps on your phone.

Looking up “gluten-free restaurants in Denver, Colorado” on Yelp, Trip Advisor, or Google Maps, on the other hand, will not always yield correct results. These apps can recognize the term “gluten-free” even in random user comments. Someone putting “…there was no gluten-free food in this restaurant” is enough to bring up a restaurant in your search and provide incorrect information.

Be picky

Check out a restaurant’s website to see if they are gluten-free friendly before you go in. If this information is not available online, phone the restaurant during non-peak hours or pay them a quick visit and ask if they can accommodate your dietary preferences and what kinds of dishes they have.

It will be much easier to avoid gluten in restaurants offering a gluten-free menu or specifically specify gluten-free items on their menu, as the crew should be familiar with making gluten-free dishes and preventing cross-contamination. These kinds of establishments are always a good choice.

Even in a conventional restaurant, you can get wonderful (gluten-free) service. Talk to them first to check whether they are informed. If you don’t feel confident for whatever reason, thank them and choose another place. It’s not worth taking the health risk.

Be the last to order

You already know that gluten-free orders are a little more complicated than regular orders. It’s never fun to be the customer who has to request a million modifications.

Allow others to order first so you have more time to discuss the food and prevent the embarrassing moment when you rattle out the ingredients you should avoid.

If the server does not appear to be very knowledgeable, politely request to talk with the manager. Do not be embarrassed to ask for further help or to ask several questions. You have the right to know how a meal is prepared and whether it is safe to eat.

Carefully phrase your dietary requirements

It might be difficult for people who do not have food restrictions to understand the numerous health difficulties that gluten can bring. They are most likely unaware of the distinctions between celiac disease, gluten intolerance, wheat allergy, and autoimmune disease worsened by gluten. If you don’t seem convincing when discussing your requirements, they’ll assume you’re just trying to be trendy and won’t take your order seriously enough.

Using the words “gluten allergy” and describing it as “severe” is the most effective way to communicate your need of avoiding gluten in restaurants. Even if this isn’t your case and it’s not technically correct, phrasing your words in this way will immediately make your server more cautious when handling your order and will most likely provide you with a safe, gluten-free meal.

Know your stuff

To properly convey your needs to a server or crew, you must educate yourself and be aware of hidden gluten sources and contamination risks so that you can ask the right questions.

Of course, we all know that gluten-free diets don’t allow regular bread, pasta, or baked goods, but you should also be aware of all other potential gluten carriers found in restaurant kitchens, including soy sauce, flavorings, thickeners, and other condiments.

Ask the staff to explain the preparation of the item you’re interested in and how they deal with hidden gluten or contamination sources. Do not assume that gluten-free dishes are actually gluten-free because there is no mention of gluten-containing ingredients in the description.

Gluten can be found in marinades, sauces, gravies, stocks, and flavorings that are added to gluten-free dishes.

Simplify your modifications

When you can’t find anything on the menu that meets your requirements, ask the cook to prepare a rice salad or grill or steam fish and/or veggies for you.

Maintaining a basic customized order will increase your chances of avoiding gluten in restaurants. Avoid anything with sauces or marinades and opt for recipes with minimal ingredients. In terms of the dressing, request olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper on the side so you know exactly what goes into the seasoning.

If you keep it basic, practically any kitchen will be able to prepare a safe gluten-free dinner for you. 

Finally, remember to be patient. Changing the way certain foods are prepared will cause the source to slow down slightly. Be aware of this and give the kitchen some extra time to prepare a gluten-free meal for you.

Always check twice!

Wave The Grain's Cranberry Orange Scone - A zesty gluten-free scone with the tang of cranberries and oranges.

Don’t assume that because the ordering process went smoothly, you’re ready to eat when the food arrives. Even if you have spoken with servers about your order, you may not be served gluten-free.

The greatest thing you can do is to train yourself to distinguish gluten-containing ingredients from gluten-free alternatives and to thoroughly scrutinize your dish for any trace of gluten, like breadcrumbs on your grilled fish, or croutons on your salad. When in doubt, ask the server if it’s gluten-free.

Mind your own plate

People enjoy sharing food and sampling a variety of dishes. However, 90 percent of the time, the appetizers ordered for the table are things you can’t eat.

To avoid gluten in restaurants, rather than requesting a change on a dish that the group wants to share, just let them order what they want while you enjoy your wine, and wait for your dinner. 

For desserts, opt for a bowl of fresh berries if you can’t find anything that suits your food intolerances. Another option is to bring a gluten-free snack or a few baked cookies to savor when the occasion arises.

Gluten-free restaurant in Colorado

Following these eight tips will allow you to relax and enjoy your restaurant meal. If you are looking for the best restaurant in the Denver metro area where you can enjoy a gluten-free meal, check out Wave the Grain today! Call us at 303-721-7547 for more information about our gluten-free menu.