I am currently working for Three Bakers Gluten Free Bread. I asked them to send me some bread to try so I knew what it was like, but also I wanted to try a gluten free fast for Zane. They sent me 2 loaves of bread, a package of buns, and a package of hoagie rolls. This is a multiple part series about us trying Gluten Free for Zane. You can start here if you want to read the first post: The Gluten Free Fast: Getting Started.
The weather got hotter than normal in Oregon this week which meant I did not want to cook. We had a couple cold meals that I made but we finally broke down and had to go out to eat. We also had a potluck to go to and we went on a mini road trip. So I found going gluten free very challenging with not eating at home. I have so much more control at home, eating out not so much!
I will say it was less stressful for us because we made a point of not worrying about cross contamination. That is a real concern for a lot of people with Celiac and I really feel for them fighting with even more challenges than we did while eating out.
Challenge #1: Find Someplace to Eat Gluten Free
At first I tried seeing what larger chains offered, but I didn’t have much luck. I did find some good websites by just googling: Gluten Free “Restaurant Name”. Then I would read the menus and we would be very limited, especially kid friendly options. One of my favorite resources (if the chain did not offer a gluten free menu) was going to links from Gluten Free Guide HQ. I would find a good list of what our options were and I could read the comments to be aware of changes.
After fighting with finding good options and chain restaurants I decided to jump on yelp and find local small eateries. I was able to search for gluten free in my area and find restaurants and quickly find the restaurant’s website for their gluten free options.
Another resource I found was an app called Locate Special Diet. You can chose the kind of diet you are following and the app will locate places you can go. The app is pretty new and they are adding cities and restaurants as quickly as they can.
Challenge #2: Finding Gluten Free & Kid Friendly
I’m frustrated with how some places offer “gluten free” options, but a lot of these options were basically just salads. Once I found a place that offered gluten free then I needed to investigate what their gluten free options were.
Fast food was pretty much not an option as they had gluten in their meat and cheese. Almost everything that was made for kids was breaded or included bread.
Chain restaurants were a little better because we could sometimes find at least one option on their gluten free menu that would work for Zane. I will have to say our favorite chain was Noodles & Company, they have gluten free italian and asian noodles with butter. Plus you can take them on the go (almost fast food).
I am very lucky that Portland area community restaurants are very aware of special dietary needs. We have actually have found a few different local cafes that offer some good gluten free options. Yelp did help finding these places. It took some investigation to see their menus and also I had to call ahead to find out more about their gluten free options. Most of the small restaurants were happy to help though.
We even found a gluten free only bakery when we were out one day that was just wonderful, Liberated Baking had awesome baked goods and awesome treats!
Challenge #3: Beware the Unexpected Gluten
The only problem with going to restaurants is that you will run into unexpected gluten. We went to Jack in the Box for breakfast after checking what was gluten free and what wasn’t. Well they had actually changed their hash browns from the the ones I had read about – but realized too late. They used to have gluten free hash brown sticks, but they had changed to a hash brown patty which did have gluten.
So you just never know for sure when you go out. Watch out for small changes and ask if your not sure.
Challenge #4: Potlucks: Bring your own Three Bakers Bun!
We go to a lot of potlucks, actually our church does a potluck every week. While learning to eat healthier for myself I have learned a lot of tricks for eating at potlucks. These tricks really helped with the gluten free fast.
Trick #1 is to bring a dish that you know that is safe to eat. Making sure that you have at least one dish that you know will be safe is great.
Trick #2 Check on the main course, make sure it is safe. Barbeques are actually the easiest to work with because you should have basic meat options: chicken, hot dogs and burgers. If there is gluten in the main course eat ahead, bring a hardier side dish to eat, or ask if you can bring a main course for yourself.
Trick #3 Bring your own bun. I love that Three Bakers made it even easier for us by having great gluten free buns to take with us. Plus their buns are just awesome! Zane isn’t a huge bread eater, but sometimes he sees what other people are eating – like hot dogs in a bun and he wants it. I pulled a bun for him and brought it along just for him.
Challenge #5: Play Dates & Snacks
We did our first gluten free play date and it didn’t even hit me that I was going to work a little harder for play dates till right beforehand. Play dates don’t always have snacks but I realized if the other mom brought snacks that I would have to make sure Zane had a good alternative.
For the play dates I packed things like hard boiled eggs, gluten free crackers, gluten free fruit snacks (love Matt’s Munchies!), cheese sticks, nuts, and raisins. All things Zane loves and was happy to gobble up.
The other thing I had to watch with the play date was to make sure that Zane knew not to eat the snacks brought from other moms. I made a point to not be “that mom” and tell the moms they couldn’t bring gluten products. I wanted to be proactive and make sure Zane was more aware of his choices.
To Be Continued …
Sorry for the long post but I thought that this information would be interesting and helpful, I hope it was! I will be writing more about how our fast is going and things we learn as we go through it. So stay tuned!