Many people must adhere to a totally gluten-free diet because of serious health problems that result when consuming this substance. Gluten is a sticky protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley, and is technically a “healthy” food. For some, gluten is merely difficult to digest, while others can have a full-blown intolerance to it. Another problem that gluten is involved in is celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that causes destruction of the small intestine whenever gluten is consumed. Celiac disease can be very serious and even lead to cancer or the development of other autoimmune diseases if gluten is not completely removed from the diet. Since gluten is so widely used in foods, especially breads, cakes, pies, pastas, soups, stews and many others, eating out can be a real challenge for those with a sensitivity to it. Most people newly-diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance choose to only consume meals prepared at home, but after they’ve their bodies have begun to heal from the effects of gluten, many would like to dine out from time to time, yet this can prevent a real challenge in traditional restaurants. Many chefs are either too busy or simply lack the knowledge to make specially-prepared meals to fit a gluten-free diet. This is why the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRWP) was created, which can help make eating out easier and less stressful for those with an intolerance to gluten.
The GFRAP provides each restaurant that decides to participate in the program with very detailed information on gluten, its affects on people sensitive to it, as well as instructions on how to create a gluten-free kitchen. Each individual restaurant is responsible for creating their own menu using the information provided from the GFRAP, though they still have to stick to the guidelines. There are different levels of the GFRAP program that each restaurant has the choice of participating in: the basic, advanced and specialized. The basic level program includes a complete packet of education and training materials, a review of the restaurant’s gluten-free menus, and the assistance of a resource person to answer any questions. The advanced level includes basic level materials as well as intensive assistance in menu review by qualified nutrition experts. The specialized level includes basic level materials, intensive assistance in menu review by qualified nutrition experts, in addition to a comprehensive restaurant training program approved by GFRAP.
When you do find a restaurant that you would like to visit, it would probably still be a good idea to call ahead of time and ask questions. It’s not unheard of for gluten-free diners to arrive at a restaurant that claims to be gluten-literate only to be greeted by a totally oblivious server, chef or manager. Unfortunately, it has happened, even at some of the locations listed with the GFRAP. One restaurant states on their “gluten-free” menu that their grills are not gluten-free and that all different foods are prepared on the same grill. If this is really the case then the food is essentially not gluten-free, since it has been contaminated. If you have the displeasure of visiting a restaurant that isn’t sticking to the guidelines, it would probably be a good idea to report them to the GFRAP, as they shouldn’t be a part of the program. Fortunately, though, there are many wonderfully accommodating restaurants listed with GFRAP that will go above and beyond to ensure that your gluten-free dining experience is as pleasant as possible. Some even have gluten-free brownies, bread, and other goodies that would normally be riddled with gluten. Reading reviews about the particular location that you choose is also a good idea, since you’ll want to do everything possible to make sure that your dining experience is perfect in everyway, including being 100 % gluten-free, with no risk of contamination.There are many well-known restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse, Cheeseburger Paradise, Rafferty’s Restaurant & Pub and more.