This post is part of Made to Eat, a series about creating healthy meals that are quick and easy. You don’t have to use complicated recipes or tons of ingredients. I’ll provide tips, tricks, and inspiration to create healthy meals anytime, whether you eat a diet free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar, or not!
I hope you liked the options, ideas, and tips from Part 1 of this “Fast Food” series! While Part 1 focused on creating fast meals in the home, today I’m sharing some suggestions for when you’re short on time, don’t feel like getting in the kitchen, and just want to pick up some takeout.
And, just quick note: whether you just found out about a dietary restriction or you’ve been modifying your diet for years, it can seem overwhelming and scary to eat out. If you have ever been sickened from eating out, you know what I mean. If you don’t feel comfortable eating out, don’t! Do what feels right to you.
Are you able to tolerate a bit of cross-contamination or will it create an autoimmune flare-up and make you very ill? Listen to your body and act accordingly. If you’re able to eat out, here’s where you can empower yourself: research and call restaurants, ask about ingredients, ask to speak to chefs, read reviews from other diners, and know what works for you. Here’s additional information about researching, asking questions, and more.
National convenience/healthier fast food chains that offer quick meals or take-out service:
More and more places are adding gluten-free menus and are sensitive to other dietary restrictions so these are just a few choices that I’ve found work in a pinch. Research what’s around you! Also, many places will ask their line chefs to change gloves for a gluten-free order (reducing the risk of cross-contamination, although you need to keep in mind what is best for your body) if you ask the manager. These places have the nutrition information (usually containing allergen information) on their websites, so do your research in advance.
Panera Bread Company (check out their Power Menu), Pei Wei, Chipotle, The Corner Bakery, Qdoba Mexican Grill, PF Changs, TGIFriday’s, and many “salad-to-go” places that are cropping up around the country.
Depending on where you are, there are likely local chains that have gluten-free, dairy-free menu choices – when I lived in Los Angeles, there were many ‘quick’ healthy restaurants that had a gluten-free menu or were sensitive to dietary restrictions. There were even some that knew how to prepare food for those with Celiac. Use the internet or mobile apps – Yelp is my favorite – to find them around you. I just search “Gluten-free friendly” in my area.
Salad Bars – Salad bars can be great for quick, healthy food when you don’t want to cook. Look for places that label the ingredients, such as Whole Foods Market or Wegman’s, or stick to whole foods (like salad greens, veggies, fruits) and stay away from prepared salads, nuts (in case they’re rubbed in seasoning that has gluten), and meats (beware of marinades, added seasoning, flours) – when in doubt, ask! More and more super markets are starting to offer upgraded salad bars. Beware of cross-contamination in salad bars, as utensils are often switched from dish to dish.
Lastly, get creative with your takeout and get the most bang for your buck! I add more healthy stuff (that I usually have around from when I prep my food), like extra veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, grains, noodles (kelp, zucchini, or brown rice), greens, or beans, to it to increase the nutrition and the portion size – therefore I get more meals out of it. This helps save money and time as I can use my leftovers all week!
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