Dining out? What Gluten-Free Patrons Need to Consider

This post is also available in: French

Dining out should be relaxing. But if you have a gluten sensitivity, a bit of skepticism should be on the menu. Typical recommendations, such as seeking a gluten-free menu and letting the server know about one’s dietary restrictions, may give the diner a false sense of assurance.

Here’s why—and how—gluten digestive enzymes can improve your dining experience.

Is the Gluten-Free Menu Really Enough?
First, consider economics. While awareness for the concerns of gluten-free customer is growing, the restaurant industry is challenged by slim margins and regular employee turnover. Further, appropriately accommodating these customers requires much more than simply stocking gluten-free breads and pastas. So, if a restaurant invests in the training and infrastructure to adequately support the needs of these customers, it will likely promote its efforts and will welcome questions.

Second, not all restaurants have a gluten-free menu, leaving the diner to navigate the standard menu. Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea to assume anything about the ingredients on any menu, especially those of chain restaurants, often the only option for a traveler.

Discerning gluten-free diners need to ask some very specific questions to determine the risk for gluten exposure from raw ingredients or cross-contamination. But will a well-meaning airport restaurant manager have the answers?

Some Questions to Determine Possible Gluten Exposure

  • Does the kitchen have separate cookware and utensils, prep space, and a dedicated fryer and grill space for gluten-free items?
  • Do the salad dressings, soups, marinades, or sauces contain flour, soy, or teriyaki sauce?
  • Does the restaurant use imitation crabmeat (or other seafood) or mashed potatoes from a mix?
  • Will any sautéed or fried item be first coated with flour?
  • Has the oil in the deep fryer been used to cook breaded menu items?
  • Will any dish be served with or have any gluten-containing garnishes? I.e., croutons, wontons, artificial bacon bits or crispy noodles on a salad or potato, fried onions on meats, or a cookie with dessert.

Adding to the complexity, likely dozens of employees have had contact with the raw ingredients, from the initial prepping of vegetables to the creation of sauces and the final preparation. Most ingredients of a single dish will change hands many times, likely over several days on multiple cutting boards and likely with various knives. This is simply the way restaurants work.

How Can the Right Enzymes Help?
Gluten-sensitive patients will always need to wear their detective hat when dining out. However, medical professionals can support them by recommending targeted support to break down hidden gluten enzymatically. But which gluten enzymes might help the most?

SpectraZyme Gluten Digest is a bacterially derived, clinically researched prolyl endoprotease (AN-PEP). It has many advantages over popular market offerings that feature exoprotease proteolytic enzymes, also known as didpeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV). In short, the AN-PEP is more effective in the low pH environment of the stomach with or without the other enzymes naturally present in the digestive tract.

SpectraZyme Gluten Digest is also a proline-specific endoprotease. This means it can specifically cleave the gluten and gluten peptides after any of the many proline residues, breaking down protein over the entire length of protein and peptide chains, not just at the ends. As a result, the enzyme breaks up the gluten more completely. So less hidden gluten will reach the duodenum.

Gluten-sensitive individuals can’t avoid all gluten exposure. But, with SpectraZyme Gluten Digest, they can minimize their risk when dining away from home.


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About Maribeth Evezich

Maribeth Evezich, RD is a functional nutrition and therapeutic lifestyle consultant. Maribeth completed her Masters in Nutrition from Bastyr University and dietetic training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Passionate about the healing power of phytonutrients, Maribeth is also a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts chef training program. She currently lives in New York City and blogs at Whole Foods Explorer, which provides resources for a whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle.

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