How to Order Gluten-Free Takeout

Did you know that approximately 700,000 Canadians follow a gluten-free diet, and 355,000 of those Canadians have Celiac disease? There are a number of health factors that may lead someone to avoid gluten – celiac disease, wheat allergies and gluten sensitivity, excluding gluten to manage digestive conditions like IBS to name a few. The need for gluten-free considerations on takeout menus is on the rise, but it can be difficult to order gluten-free fast food without sacrificing any of the flavour or experience that comes with ordering from a restaurant.

In honour of National Gluten-Free Day on January 10, we’re here to give you the inside scoop on how to get maximum enjoyment out of your next takeout meal while skipping the gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in certain types of grains like wheat, rye, and barley. While foods like bread and pasta may come to mind first, gluten can be hiding in lots of packaged food items like soy sauce and fried foods. If you’re avoiding gluten because of celiac disease or an allergy, opt for restaurants that specifically state that they have totally gluten-free options as the likelihood of cross-contamination is high at most fast food restaurants.

Got beef with burgers? 

Of course, you can always opt for a gluten-free salad, but sometimes you just crave a good-old fashioned greasy burger. The good news is that most often, the meat and toppings themselves do not inherently contain gluten, so you can skip the bun and ask for a lettuce wrapped burger instead.

The scoop on french fries

Though fries themselves are free of gluten, they are usually deep fried in oil that is used for gluten-containing food items rendering them unsuitable for gluten-sensitive folks. However, you can always ask the restaurant if they use a dedicated gluten free fryer. McDonald’s is one such restaurant that uses dedicated fryers for their french fries, and in Canada, their french fries are considered gluten-free. However, be careful if you are travelling south of the border as McDonald’s in the U.S. uses a beef flavouring in their fries that does contain gluten.

Are you chicken me out? 

Alright, so the harsh reality is that fried chicken is not your friend if you are gluten-free. That delicious fried crispy breading on nearly all of their menu items renders them not a great option for the gluten-free diner. One chicken quick-service restaurant however stands apart from the rest – Chick-fil-a tends to offer more gluten-free options than the average friend chicken joint. They offer the option of a gluten-free bun, so modifying their grilled chicken sandwich can make for a delightfully tasty takeout treat. Their grilled chicken nuggets and Waffle Potato Fries are also great gluten-free options.

Let’s taco bout it

The holy grail of gluten-free takeout has got to be Mexican food. This category’s love of tasty proteins, fresh toppings, and corn-based tortillas makes Mexican food a great gluten-free option often requiring few modifications. At Taco Bell for example, their crunchy tacos are corn-based and thus gluten-free. Remember that anything on a soft flour tortilla however is not gluten-free. Chipotle is another Mexican quick-service chain that has your back when it comes to gluten-free menu items. Most of their menu is gluten-free aside from the flour tortillas that wrap their burritos, leaving their loaded bowls, salads, and even tortilla chips on the table.

While avoiding gluten makes it significantly more difficult to order meals to go, there are a lot of restaurants leading the charge and prioritizing gluten-free options. Panera Bread, for example, deserves honourable mention for their wide variety of delicious salads and soups that do not contain gluten. Each time we order gluten-free meals or opt for restaurants that take gluten-free diets into consideration, we move the needle towards a more celiac-friendly dining culture – so go ahead and celebrate National Gluten-Free Day by ordering in tonight!