Gluten Free Eating on Vacation

For the last 46 days our family has been eating gluten free. Thankfully, an allergy didn’t force the GF diet upon us, but rather a desperate need for some diet modification. It’s a fairly long story that I’ll save for another post, but choosing to eat healthier was the bottom line.

My excitement level started high. And, even better, my children somehow saw being GF as an extreme privilege. I planned. I shopped. I printed out recipes and stocked our home with all GF products.

I loved it because I felt great about the meals I fed my family every day.

A couple weeks into our new lifestyle, we hit a little hiccup.  We went on a vacation. It was a short 2-day vacation, but a trip away from our house nonetheless. I had no intention of cooking on this vacation. You see, we didn’t get a hotel room with a kitchenette. We didn’t even get a room with a fridge. Since we’d previously eaten out for an occasional meal, I didn’t quite see the difficulty in being GF on vacation.

Eating multiple meals out required a bit of planning.

And, I’ll be honest, I hadn’t planned ahead. Our family had a few frustrating moments on this particular vacation. All in all, we made it work. Our family didn’t starve and we maintained the strict diet away from home. But, I did learn, the importance of finding several go-to options. Lots of restaurants offer Gluten Free options. Additionally, many meals are GF by nature which makes choosing food easy.

Here are a few suggestions of gluten free meals we found easily when traveling:

  1. 1. Any Mexican Restaurant:  Tons of Mexican dishes are naturally gluten free. The main ingredient in most chips at Mexican restaurants is corn. Also, substituting a corn tortilla for a flour one, makes many other dishes GF. Of course, you will need to worry about any type of sauce or spices used to cook the meats (if you are eating a very strict GF diet.) We love finding hole-in-the-wall places, but we also enjoy places like Chipotle and Tijuana Flats.
Tacos with corn tortillas
  1. 2. Many Pizza Restaurants: Not only do pizza restaurants typically offer great salads, many offer a GF crust. GF pizza crust is easily our favorite substitute. It’s almost worth ordering even if you aren’t GF because the texture and flavor mirrors that of a regular thin crust pizza. You can always check pizza places you come across as you travel, but a few of our chain GF options are: Mellow Mushroom and Domino’s.
  2. 3. McAlister’s Deli: McAlister’s offers an extensive variety of GF foods on their menu. Additionally, some locations even offer GF bread which doubles the amount of options.
McAlister’s Deli Gluten Free Menu
  1. 4. Waffle House: You can’t really ever go wrong with Waffle House! Our family could eat breakfast foods 3 meals a day, so this place is a great GF go-to when we travel. Not only are their locations everywhere, but they have so many options on their menu (bacon, eggs, hash browns!)
  2. 5. Any Burger Place: It took me a little while to figure this tip out. My kids (and I) love a great cheeseburger. It dawned on me, the bun is irrelevant. Ever since this realization hit, I was able to navigate almost any restaurants menu. Most children’s menus have the option of a cheeseburger. By ordering it without the bun, I make my kids happy and they are able to eat GF without any sacrifice.
  1. 6. Chick-fil-A: I don’t think our family could survive a week on the road without Chick-fil-A. So naturally, I was thrilled to find many GF options on their menu. Any of the restaurant’s grilled chicken options are GF (assuming you forego the bun.) Plus, many of their sides are also GF. Best of all, most of their delicious sauces do not contain gluten!

Most restaurants are becoming very savvy to allergies and food preferences. We try to ask the hostess when we arrive if they have a special GF menu (and often they do!)

In addition to these places, I always keep a RXBAR or two in my car if I’m in a pinch and need a GF snack!

*Just to reiterate, no one in our family has a gluten allergy. Therefore, these meals are just loose suggestions that worked for us and our gluten-freeish lifestyle.

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