Hibachi Food and Hidden Gluten Hazards (How to Celebrate Gluten-Free)
- By Ashley McGilloway
- Published 02/27/2009
My name is Ashley. I am from the north-shore. I am currently a senior in college, graduating in May. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease my junior year of high school. It has been five years now, and my life has changed for the best. Before I was diagnosed I was constantly feeling sick. I dealt with agonizing stomach pains, which made it difficult to get out of bed and live a normal life. I was a gymnast at this point as well. I was constantly tired and I had no drive because I was always feeling sick. I had dealt with these pains since childhood, but the doctors thought I just had a "sensitive" stomach. Once things worsened and it became unbearable to even eat out with my friends, I called a stomach specialist. Celiac was the last thing I was tested for and sure enough I tested positive. I began the gluten-free diet, and my life began to snap back into place. I had more energy and the stomach aches and head aches began to decrease immediately. It was difficult once I went away to college because at that point not many college food services knew what the disease was. I went through several meetings and eventually was able to have a special meal plan created. Today I live in my own apartment, and I am an expert at cooking my own gluten-free meals. I do not cheat on this diet, and I have not felt the need to. I am a communication major with focuses in journalism and media arts. I have used this to spread the word about Celiac Disease. I have written several articles for my coursework, and one for my school newspaper. I even made a web site, in my web design class, devoted to living gluten-free. I have a lot to say on the topic, and I would like to spread my knowledge. I feel that many college students can relate to me. Once they know what the disease actually is many doors can be opened. Life is so much better Gluten-Free!
Something went wrong on this Tuesday night. I was with about 15 of my closest friends, and the chef was very entertaining. I was so excited and distracted that I let my guard down. I left the restaurant feeling fine and continued to have a couple drinks with friends. A couple hours later what I like to call my "gluten stomach-ache" hit. It was late and I had already done my share of celebrating, but I couldn't help but blame the restaurant.
I did a lot of thinking the next day to figure out what made me so sick. Here is what I think...although I have had this disease for over five years, I made a major slip up. As I watched the chef cook the food he kept the rice separate from the noodles. Although he cooked the rice in front of us first, he used the same spatula to move the noodles out of his way. I don't know if it was the excitement of my birthday or me being distracted, but I did not pay enough attention to this. The food tasted great and he did not add any sauce; I guess I thought I was in the clear.
Another thought my friends and I had was that there may have been gluten in my drink. I am very careful when it comes to ordering drinks. I have learned the hard way that some alcoholic beverages they say "might" contain gluten really do make me sick. So I ordered a drink made of only rum and juices--a safe bet for me. The drink was great, but when I ordered my second I did not specify to them over again that I wanted the same exact drink. Again because I was so distracted this drink may have contained something I could not tolerate.
The two major lesson here are:
- Do not try out a new restaurant on your birthday. Stick with a place you know is safe for you. When you are in a big group like that it is easy to forget that checking for gluten is your first priority. Save the experimentation for a night where you can take your time and make sure it is safe.
- If you are ordering a mixed drink, make sure you watch them make it! This is something I always do. When it comes to wine you are safe, but it's sad to say that some bartenders do make major mess ups.
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