By Deborah Holladay
Have you ever been stranded at an airport by a canceled flight and had only a few light snacks in your carry-on luggage, grabbed dinner on the run between late hours at work and Open House Night at your child’s school, chaperoned starving teenagers after a nighttime football game, or arrived at home from church to find Sunday dinner still sitting uncooked in the slow cooker because someone had turned on the pot but forgotten to plug it in? On occasions such as this, eating at a fast food restaurant may not have been merely the easiest option; it may have been the only alternative to going hungry.
Fortunately, due to the increased public awareness of celiac disease in the US, many fast food establishments now publish lists of their gluten-free (GF) menu items. Though the choices are often limited and quite basic, one can almost always count on a fast food restaurant having a bare hamburger patty, a side salad, a plain baked potato with butter or margarine on the side, and a choice of beverages that are celiac-safe. While that does not make an elegant meal, it is a complete meal and one that is fairly healthful. Some fast food chains have additional GF menu items, such as chili, specialty salads, and grilled chicken, which offer more variety.
The majority of fast food restaurants with gluten-free food choices post their GF menus on the Internet. This makes it possible to download menus, print them, and collect them in a notebook or manila envelope. People without Internet access can obtain the GF menus by calling the restaurants’ customer service numbers and asking to have them mailed. With the packet of collected GF menus stowed in the car or packed on trips, impromptu meals away from home can be less hazardous and less stressful for celiacs.
It is important to update a packet of gluten-free menus periodically, as is true of all GF product lists, since companies may change their ingredients or suppliers. The phone number, Web site, and menu information that follows can be used for updating old information or creating a new packet.
Arby’s. At http://www.arbys.com/food.html click on “Menu Items Without Gluten” to download PDF.
Burger King. 305-378-3535. At http://www.bk.com/en/us/menu-nutrition/index.html the Gluten Sensitive List PDF may be accessed from Nutrition and Allergens dropdown menu on Menu and Nutrition page.
Chick-fil-A. 1-866-232-2040. GF menu at http://www.chickfila.com/default.aspx#gluten.
Dairy Queen. 952-830-0200. GF menu at http://www.dairyqueen.com/us-en/eats-and-treats/gluten-free-products/.
Hardees. 877-799-7827. At http://www.hardees.com/menu click on PDF Downloads Allergens for Allergen Information that addresses wheat but not barley, oats, or rye.
Kentucky Fried Chicken. 1-800-225-5532. GF information at http://www.yum.com/nutrition/allergen/allergen_kfc.asp.
Long John Silver’s. GF information at http://www.yum.com/nutrition/allergen/allergen_ljs.asp.
McDonalds. 1-877-MCD-FOOD. USA Ingredients Listing for Popular Menu Items addresses wheat but not barley, oats, or rye. http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/ingredientslist.pdf
Sonic. 866-657-6642. GF information at http://www.sonicdrivein.com/pdfs/menu/Sonic_Allergen_Table.pdf.
Subway. 800-888-4848. GF information at http://www.yum.com/nutrition/allergen/allergen_tb.asp (January 2009)
Taco Bell. 1-800-TACO BELL. GF information at http://www.yum.com/nutrition/allergen/allergen_tb.asp.
Taco Cabana. Gluten-Free menu available by calling calling Marvin Jones, Operations Services Analyst, 210-283-5516, or by sending e-mail to email@example.com.
Wendy’s. 614-764-3100. GF menu at http://www.wendys.com/food/pdf/us/gluten_free_list.pdf.
Whataburger. 361-878-0650. Gluten information at http://www.whataburger.com/browse_dietary_restrictions.php