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Gluten-free Fast Food: Top 3 Options for a Healthier Cheat Meal

Gluten-free Fast Food

Gluten awareness is more prominent now. Most fitness-aware people try to avoid gluten, and many people are allergic to gluten too. With these factors in mind, many fast food chains have started expanding their menus. They’re trying to make the menus more diverse for people trying to avoid gluten.

But let’s be honest here, gluten-free fast food options are pretty limited, and most of the bigger fast food chains don’t precisely offer them (not everywhere, at least). In their defense, most popular fast food items involve buns or similar things that are hard to replicate with gluten-free (GF) alternatives.

Does that mean people who avoid gluten have to give up on fast food? Not exactly. A lot of fast food chains are introducing gluten-free options these days. So if you’re looking for a cheat meal but don’t want to ruin your progress entirely or are just allergic to gluten, you can hold on to hope. But what gluten-free option can you find and where?

If that’s your concern, look no further. Here is a list of the top 3 gluten-free fast food options for a healthier cheat meal.

Can Fast Food be Gluten Free?

Gluten-free Fast Food
JPM

That is an interesting question, but answering that is a little difficult. Since gluten is very common, GF options are already hard to find, and even then, they won’t be 100% risk-free because of cross-contamination.

Gluten is a type of protein that comes from food grains. You’ll find gluten in wheat, barley, and rye. It is harder to avoid because most of our food options are either made from these or contain food by-products that come from them. Your regular pasta and bread are the poster image of foods containing gluten, but the gluten-containing by-products can also be in other foods (especially the packaged ones).

The most common fast food menu would probably be burgers and other sandwiches. The buns are made from wheat products, so that’s a big no for Gluten-Free targeting people. And it doesn’t end here; even salads can be less healthy than you’d think with the croutons. So Gluten-Free options are hard to find all in all.

A lot of fast food chains have started to introduce gluten-free menus. But these can also be plantain gluten during the prep time in the kitchen. Many food chains use the same batch of oil for frying both GF and gluten-containing food, so the oil can easily contaminate the GF food options.

The risk is lower if you’re ordering GF-labeled food, but there’s always this slight chance of contamination, so there is no 100% risk-free GF food option.

Top 3 Fast Food Chains with Gluten-Free Options

Most fast food chains have a few GF food items on their menus, but some have a separate menu for people looking to skip gluten. From your local Chipotle to Baskin-Robbins– you can find a lot of healthier fast food alternatives if you know where to look.

1. Best Overall Option: Chick-Fil-A

Gluten-free Fast Food
Brandon Bell / Staff

Chick-fil-a has one of the best (if not the best) GF menus. Their regular chickens may be dripping in gluten, but if you squint a little bit, you’ll find the grilled chicken option. The grilled chicken nuggets are very much fair game for gluten-sensitive people, and they might even be tastier if you believe consumers.

If you’re not in the mood for chicken, fear not. Chick-fil-a has plenty of other gluten-free fast food for you to enjoy. Their famous gluten-free sides include fruit cups, superfoods, and waffle potato fries. The waffle potato fries are done in utterly separate frying oil, so the risk of cross-contamination is very low.

Most of their dipping sauces are GF, and you can always request your grilled chicken sandwich without buns. But if you want to enjoy a sandwich with buns, then good news for you, you can do that too. Chick-fil-a now has GF buns made from quinoa and millets for gluten-sensitive people. All you’ll have to do is order it from their menu.

2. Best Mexican Option: Chipotle

Justin Sullivan / Staff

Say what you want; everyone craves Mexican food once in a while. If that day is your cheat day, it is practically a jackpot. But other than that, if you want to hold back a little and pick healthier GF options, chipotle won’t disappoint you.

The only gluten-containing food on their menu is the flour tortilla. Everything else is gluten-free, according to their official website. So you can pick your favorite Mexican food with your eyes closed. Just make sure to inform them about the gluten sensitivity to avoid cross-contamination.

3. Arby’s

SAUL LOEB / Staff

Arby’s is a good place if you’re craving some classic fast food but want the gluten-free option. It may not be the top of the choices, but it is still a decent one. Arby’s has multiple gluten-free options, but most are more like sides. Their farmhouse salad with roast turkey is a good GF option, and the chocolate, jamocha swirl, and vanilla shakes are listed as GF too.

 If you want the typical burgers and sandwich options, you’ll have to get them without the buns specifically. You’ll also have to stay away from salad with croutons. You can ask to hold the croutons but never pick out the croutons from your salad; the salad will be cross-contaminated anyway.

The fries in Arby’s are all done in the same oil batch, so cross-contamination is pretty much evident there. If you’re craving fries, too bad, you’ll have to pick a different option.

Conclusion

Health comes before everything else. If you’re trying to save your cheat day meal with some gluten-free fast food or are just gluten-sensitive, check the official menus of the fast food chains before ordering something. If you can’t find any gluten-free options around you, collecting food items without buns, croutons, or other gluten-containing elements is a good option. It will always have a very high risk of cross-contamination, so we don’t recommend doing that.

You can also read: 7 Healthy Morning Recipes for 500-Calorie Breakfast

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Hello, I am the founder of Health and Stamina and a full-time health and fitness blogger. Bringing you the most talked-about health and fitness issues from reliable sources. 

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