The most frequent questions I get about being gluten, dairy & soy free are how I handle it when in a restaurant or when I’m going over to a someone’s home do I follow all the “rules”?
First off, while I try to eat soy free, I’ve basically decided life is too hard to avoid the grand trifecta of all 3 “frees” all of the time & my life will have some soy in it. I don’t seek it out, I don’t cook with it, I don’t eat a lot of processed foods & since I cook at home 90% of the time it works just fine when it’s consumed in a restaurant setting. I also don’t have an allergy to soy, so I know allowing soy to remain in my diet as my “frenemy” is a decision not everyone can make. But, when eating out, I can usually find plenty of options with no dairy & gluten, but soy is hidden in EVERYTHING. So I live with it.
Dairy & gluten I do try to avoid because honestly, I feel better without it. The last few weeks have been incredibly busy & I allowed myself to put my nutrition on the back burner. I told myself I’d feel fine & that a little bit wouldn’t hurt me. Guess who has been coughing for almost 4 straight weeks & is now back on her meal plan because of it? That would be moi. I have felt too good & have had too much success to not eat this way! So with that being said…
When I’m eating out, I always look for certain foods on the menu:
- Rice Based Meals
- Corn Based Meals
Mexican: Fajitas with corn tortillas. I don’t eat the sour cream, but use guacamole. Sometimes, I skip the tortillas all together & just enjoy the meat & bell peppers mixed with guacamole.
Steakhouse: Steak, fries, salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Back in the beginning, when I was being super strict I wouldn’t eat fries purely because the oils they’re fried in is usually shared with floured chicken they’re also frying. But I have since reintroduced fries (a handful of times in the last year) & haven’t had any issues.*
Chipotle type restaurants: a rice bowl with grilled chicken, beans, corn, lettuce, bell peppers, avocado &/or guacamole. I also get a meal very similar to this at a place called Taco’s For Life & Flying Burrito (a locally owned restaurant.)
Italian: I know that there are Italian places that serve gluten free dishes, but typically it’s really hard to avoid dairy. Cause who wants Italian without cheese? Not me, friend, not me. I have eaten Italian one time in 2 years, it was a glorious evening. The next day, not so much. Ha!
Chinese: I have found a few Chinese restaurants who serve Gluten Free dishes & it’s amazing. We have one near our house & my go to is Gluten free fried rice with shrimp, broccoli, carrots & egg. I only eat this every now & again since it’s fried, but this is always a go to for a Friday night movie with Todd after the kids have gone to bed.
Sea Food: Grilled fish or shrimp, rice & vegetables. It’s always easy to find something at a seafood place except for the fact that I love fried fish & hush puppies with a really stout beer– none of which I makes me feel good to eat. It’s sad, but true.
What I eat at most restaurants when the menu is limited: Grilled Chicken Salad with no cheese or croutons. Add extra avocado & other vegetables if available & balsamic vinaigrette.
Some places will also have a lean meat & vegetable option but buyer beware! I have ordered that from a few places, think it was safe & then I will get home only to realize that whatever was in the sauce the food was prepared in had something in it that didn’t agree with me. But the wonderful news is, consumers are starting to demand more & more healthy options on their menus & in their grocery stores. The world of eating out for me is totally different now than it was even 2 years ago!
What about eating out at a friend’s house or in a social gathering in someone’s home?
As far as going out to a friend’s house, if I really feel like I don’t need to stray from GF & DF, then I will eat before I go. And since they’re my friends, they get it. Usually, they ask me if there’s something they can make or I can bring so I have my own food. I’ve not had anyone not be accommodating .
I’ve been invited out to eat with people I don’t know really well or invited over to an event at someone’s home where I don’t feel like it’s necessary to say something to the host, so it’s another situation where I eat before I go. No one has ever noticed that I’m not eating or if they have, they haven’t said anything to me about it. Typically, there is a vegetable & fruit tray or a salad, so if I really feel like I need a plate then I get some of that & a drink. And voila. I’m eating, just like everyone else.
If I’m going to a potluck, then I make sure to bring something that I know I will enjoy eating like everyone else. Whether it’s a hummus dip or a salad with my own homemade dressings, it’s always something simple & easy!
Eating out in a restaurant or somewhere other than my own kitchen all boils down to choices, how I’m feeling & how well I’ve done staying on track. I’m not 100% perfect at this, I get tempted & give in to foods that don’t always make me feel amazing. But, eating this way the majority of the time has worked for me the last couple of years & I don’t plan on stopping!
Do you have certain foods or ingredients you avoid for your diet? How do you handle eating out or being in a social situation that revolves around food?? I’d love to know!
*I do not have a dairy or gluten allergy. I know that I have some sort of sensitivity that inflames my lungs & bronchial tubes (as discussed with my doctor), but I only have issues after I’ve consecutively eaten dairy or gluten for too long. None of what I’ve written here should be applied to those with true allergies.