Gluten Free Dining Options

Nicole Palmieri, Senior at Glenbard South High School, shared with Healthy Lombard that In the past 20 years, our world has seen more awareness for “gluten-free,” “gluten allergy,” “gluten sensitivity” options at restaurants and fast-food chains. It can get all too confusing, so here is a comprehensive list of fast-food places and restaurants in Lombard, or near the area, that have gluten-free options, menus, and which ones to steer clear of. Also in this article, you will learn about the difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Fast-Food that Offer Gluten-Free Options:
• Many fast-food chains offer gluten-free french fries upon request. This includes Chick-Fil-A, Five Guys, Sonic and Arby’s.

• Chains that have the worst opportunities for gluten-free options (according to verywellfit.com) include Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and KFC “as they have extremely limited options and the risks for gluten crossing-contamination are high.”

  • Those with severe celiac disease should be cautious when ordering food that has any possibility of cross-contamination. In this case, the more questions the better!
  • Cross-contamination appears often in fried foods, so ask if your food will be cooked in oil that is specifically meant for gluten-free items. Also, ask if equipment like toasters, pizza ovens, panini presses, different spatulas, etc. are used for the purpose of keeping conscious of those with a severe gluten allergy.
  • Again, the more questions the better! If you have celiac disease and are asking your waiter or cashier, try to gauge how secure they are in their answers. If they do not seem to know, ask to see a manager! Better to double-check then risk it.
  • Arby’s has a separate gluten-free menu, but most foods that are not potato-based or eaten without bread are gluten-free there. Chipotle is almost unanimously gluten-free, except for its soft flour tortillas. (medicalnewstoday.com)

Another tip is to ask the fast-food place, or any restaurant for that matter, if the food is prepared specifically on a separate surface from gluten-containing items. Restaurants that Offer a Separate Gluten-Free Menu:
• California Pizza Kitchen
• Chili’s
• Outback Steakhouse
• P.F. Chang’s
• Antico Posto
• Egg Harbor Café
• Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant
• Wildfire
• Ditka’s
• Brio Tuscan Grille
• Blackberry Market
• Red Robin
• Weber Grill

Why Are All of These Gluten-Free “Trends” Happening?
• There is a difference between celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and slight gluten intolerance.

• “Celiac disease is a chronic digestive disorder resulting from an immune reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats” (medicalnewstoday.com). The only treatment for celiac disease is to adapt to a gluten-free diet. Therefore, those with celiacs have to be extremely cautious with the foods they eat as it is a serious matter for their health. If they do eat gluten, their body overreacts and causes villi (the small projections that line the wall of the small intestine) to be damaged. When villi are damaged, the small intestine is unable to properly absorb nutrients from food. This usually first appears in infants and children, yet it is not always visible at first.

• Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is someone who does not test positive for celiac disease, but do feel the effects of celiac disease, such as abdominal pain, inflammation, foggy mind, diarrhea or constipation, and overall fatigue. “According to head researcher of the study, Dr. Armin Alaedini, ‘there is some ambiguity there, which is why we are referring to it as non-celiac wheat sensitivity for now.’ This can be triggered by gastrointestinal infections, medications, and surgery” (celiac.org).

• Slight gluten intolerance means the person has some sort of negative reaction to gluten-containing foods. They could eliminate or decrease the amount of gluten in their diet to feel better but will remain safe if they eat gluten-containing foods every once in a while.

Hopefully, you were able to learn about gluten-free diets and how they are applicable in restaurants and fast-food places!

3 replies
  1. Michelle Wegner
    Michelle Wegner says:

    Very well written. I have Celiac. This will be a nice article to send to family and friends over the holidays to explain my food limitations.

  2. Kari Chrysty
    Kari Chrysty says:

    This was a very well written article. I have celiac and was diagnosed over 13 years ago. I was looking for a breakfast place in the area and you helped me find 2! Thank you!

  3. Juanita
    Juanita says:

    Thank you for your comment. I am so grateful for the excellent job this student did researching and writing this article.

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