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Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Paradise

Updated on April 6, 2018

Enjoy restaurants, on a special diet

Yesterday, our family enjoyed an activity together for the first time in 6 months! It's something everyone probably takes for granted. A simple meal out at a restaurant. Not drive-through fast-food. A sit-down restaurant with a waitress. We discovered paradise! Cheeseburger in Paradise that is. We ordered a gluten-free, dairy-free meal (with a bun!) without a deer-in-the-headlights look! Or a, "your one of those people that make my job miserable" looks.

Our daughter is on the Autism spectrum and her doctor recommended a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. A common story these days. We have been changing our diet pretty well at home, but it is very difficult to find appropriate foods at restaurants. Our poor daughter's only restaurant meal has been Wendy's Chili. We want to offer her more choices! Let's help each other by using this space as a forum for rating great restaurants and our favorite meals.

Why are you eating gluten-free and/or dairy-free?

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Our Favorite Fast Food

Our very first meal eating out was at Wendy's. After checking on the internet, it seemed this was an easy place to start. My daughter had the Chili and we asked for no cheese on it. Please. We have been getting the fries. Our Wendy's has a dedicated fryer only for the fries. So that limits cross-contamination with gluten foods in the oil. You will need to ask this at your local restaurant.

I enjoy the Baja Salad with Chili on top. Don't eat the tortilla strips or the dressing! They contain milk. It can be a big fuss to get them to make it though. Apparently, the cheese is already mixed in the greens, so they have to go get a new container of greens. Boo Hoo. One time, they didn't even add the guacamole or the onions! My faithful family withstood my rantings and reminded me to count my blessings! Out of the mouths of babes! My long-suffering husband called to report the offense, and the manager offered us a free salad on our next visit.

I've also tried the plain baked potato. It's a healthy choice, but not quite the same without gobs of butter and sour cream! Ah, I digress. You can ask for broccoli topping and put dairy-free butter on it at home. If you are really prepared, you will have pats of said butter in your purse!

Here are Wendy's Gluten-Free Menu, and Ingredient & Allergy Info. PDFs

Do you eat Wendy's fries if they use a dedicated fryer?

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U.S. Labeling Laws

Effective Jan. 2006, U.S. labeling laws require the top known eight allergens to be printed along with all ingredients. This includes

Milk, Wheat, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, and Shellfish.

Restaurants and Gluten-Free Labeling Claims

In 2014, FDA staff reviewed and slightly revised this statement originally written by Rhonda Kane, MS, RD, former Consumer Safety Officer with the FDA:

“with respect to restaurants, FDA guidance suggests that any use of an FDA-defined food labeling claim (e.g., “fat-free” or “cholesterol-free”) on restaurant menus should be consistent with the regulatory definitions.

If restaurants cannot ensure that the foods they prepare fully comply with FDA’s definition of gluten-free, restaurants should not refer to their foods as being “gluten-free.”

Read the full statement at

Restaurants and Gluten-Free Labeling Claims


Proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross-bred hybrids of these grains.

Look for gluten-free seals from:

Government standards require that "gluten-free" labeled foods must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten in the United States, and 20 or less ppm in Canada.

There are 4 independent gluten testing companies in the U.S.:

  • Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) labeled products must contain less than 10 ppm gluten.
  • NSF International used to represent National Sanitation Foundation, but due to expansion, the letters do not stand for specific words today. Foods they certify contain 15 ppm gluten or less.
  • National Celiac Association labeled products contain 5 ppm gluten or less.
  • Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) called Beyond Celiac in the U.S. also represents the Canadian Celiac Association. Products with this label must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten in the U.S.

Independent GF Certifier Marks

Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
NSF International
NSF International
National Celiac Asociation
National Celiac Asociation
Gluten-Free Certification Program
Gluten-Free Certification Program

Use gluten-free dairy-free Condiments! - Travel size is perfect for car, purse or camping!

Please help us find a delicious dairy-free pizza! - Any suggestions? We miss Pizza Hut!

Do you enjoy dairy-free pizza?

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Maureen McDonnell, R.N.

"...many of the children lack the [dpp4] enzyme that allows them to break down the peptides from gluten and casein. As a result, a subset of autistic individuals have these improperly digested proteins which...pass through the blood-brain barrier and interfere with neurotransmission. When this happens, Dr. Karl Reichelt, M.D., Ph.D., and others, have shown that these opioid-like substances can be responsible for poor attention, odd behavior, a deficit in socialization skills and poor speech."

Cross-contamination possible!

I've noticed most restaurant menus have a disclaimer in tiny print basically saying, "Eat at your own risk!" So if you have serious allergy symptoms, beware!

Celebrate National Gluten-Free Day in January!

Celebrate the 2nd Monday of each New Year!
Celebrate the 2nd Monday of each New Year!

Gluten-Free Options

Do you dine out with your special diet? - Or is it easier to just cook at home?

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    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      Much easier to make things at home, although some restaurant foods are acceptable.

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 5 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I am licky to have a few restaurant which can offer good choices nearby. But I ALWAYS double check that they served me the gf option before I eat. I have had some bad experiences too though

    • Sara Krentz profile image

      Sara Krentz 5 years ago from USA

      Very interesting lens. I'd never heard of gluten or dairy exacerbating Asperger's symptoms.