Eating Gluten-Free at Fast Food Restaurants

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Eating Gluten-Free at Fast Food Restaurants

If you're craving a fast food fix, first review this list of where to go and what to order.  GFP doesn't recommend eating fast food more than once or twice a week.

Please note that the risk of cross contamination in fast food restaurants is undoubtedly high, and it's unlikely the people behind the counter have been trained in the nomenclature of gluten. This is not always the safest option for those with highly sensitive celiac disease. The frequency of turnover and hiring young workers can contribute to less consistency in food handling knowledge. If you go inside rather than the drive-thru, you may be able to watch how your food is being prepared.  Look to see if the food handler changed gloves after preparing a gluten food before starting on your gluten-free order and look to see how clean the prep area is.  Always do your own homework about food on the menus.  Menus in fast-food restaurants are subject to frequent changes and some ingredients in pre-packaged, pre-marinated and even pre-seasoned foods may change also.

GFP Top Choice: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Not only does Chipotle offer a huge variety of gluten-free food, whenever possible they use meat from animals raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones, organic and local produce when practical, and dairy from cows raised without the use of synthetic hormones. Very cool. Everything on Chipotle's menu except for the flour tortillas is listed as gluten-free on the company's Special Diet Information handout.

Burger King

Burger King unveiled its new gluten-sensitive list in early 2010 as part of its "BK Positive Steps" campaign to provide more nutrition information on its menu items. As of late 2011, it also changed the recipe on its French fries to make them gluten-free – which was well received by the gluten-free community. But don’t get too excited, here’s what the fine print says about the listing options: “Foods and Ingredients made without Wheat, Barley, Oats or Rye. This list is not intended for people with severe gluten intolerance.”  Also, fried items may be fried with gluten-containing ingredients. Click here to view their list of “Products for Guests with Gluten Sensitivity.

Wendy's

In the past, people with celiac or gluten intolerance would head to Wendy's as their first choice when looking for a gluten-free fast food restaurant. Most or all of the chain's baked potatoes are gluten-free, as are Wendy's chili and chocolate and vanilla Frosty’s. Click here to link to their gluten-free menu.

Arby's

Arby's is owned by the same company as Wendy's and has a decent offering of gluten-free options. Gluten-free meals include the farmhouse salad with turkey and ham or roast chicken. The chocolate, jamocha swirl and vanilla shakes also are listed as gluten-free. Click here to see Arby’s gluten-free options.

Subway

Subway is testing gluten-free buns in some states across the US including Texas and Oregon, and hopefully these options are coming to a store near you. Meanwhile, Subway offers a list of allergens found in their foods – beyond gluten – looking at foods like dairy and treenuts, making this a nice option for those with multiple food allergies. Many salads and omelets are gluten-free. Click here for a complete list.

Taco Bell

While it’s easy to make Mexican food gluten-free at home, Taco Bell doesn’t seem to have too many options. The pinto’s and cheese and Mexican rice seem to be about the only meals that don’t have wheat or gluten. However for those with multiple allergies, they have a list of all the major allergens and what foods contain them. Far from a Celiac’s fast food paradise, but if you like rice and beans, it might be worth a stop. A big caveat is that gluten-free food may be prepared on the same equipment as gluten containing foods.  Click here to see their allergy listing.

GFP Worst Choice: McDonald's

McDonald's doesn't maintain a gluten-free menu, stating instead that since ingredients and suppliers change frequently, people with concerns should check back at the company's website. Nothing on this menu is considered safe at this time.  Ingredient information can be found at www.mcdonalds.com

Here is an excellent and extensive resource for 50 safe options at fast food chains called The Ultimate Gluten-Free Fast Food Guide compiled by CeliAct.com

Janet Drake
Thank you for the listing of Restaurants that have Gluten Free Foods. It has changed by leaps and bounds in ten years. It is so simple now. Our local grocery store is carry over 100 products now in there store. I am so excited. I have never so good in my life! As far as McDonald's goes....my dietitian has told me never to go to that place. There is not one good thing about it..including the salads!
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Bottom line, I just have to get used to making my meals ahead of time and freezing them. I just need to be more disciplined thus, i can have my meal already prepared and in my bag drive by a fast food and want to stop just because I know I'm not supposed to have it. I will continue to restore my health by becoming more disciplined.
Jan
You know yourself better than anyone, what has worked for you in the past and what's important to you now! With that in mind, what comes up for you when you think about making meals ahead of time and freezing them? Just keep in mind to be "kind" to yourself and take small realistic steps.