Eating Out Gluten-Free and Without Fear
- By Aimee Eiguren
- Published 05/7/2008
I am a 38 year old woman and native San Franciscan, now living in northern Nevada...I'm also a Blogger. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease on April 15, 2000 - the Millennium year proved to be quite significant for my life, minus any YK2 computer crashes. My diagnosis arrived sincerely just in the nick of time, because at the ripe old age of 30 I was on my out of this life, due to almost a decade of severe sickness, complications and misdiagnoses. There are still many a day when a flash of my pre-diagnosis past enters my mind and I remember glimpses of my life during those years of confusion, sickness, despair, and ultimate frustration. I don't recall ever feeling fearful of what was happening to me though, because the funny thing about the human spirit is - we fight to live; it's innate to our souls...and of our being. However, I can honestly say that my parents and brother would not concur with my last sentence because they were laden with the fear and uncertainty of my future more than I - my job was to fight through, research, keep living, keep filling up my soul with whatever joys and enjoyment I could still physically and emotionally take in...and I did just that.
I would be honored for any of you out there to take a look at my blog and see what you think, or better yet, please subscribe to receive my blog postings...it's easy to do from the home page at www.glutenfreebowlofsoul.blogspot.com.
Now...I've been intending to sit down every evening for the past two weeks and post a new entry, but the time slips away...warm evenings have caused me to linger a bit too long in my backyard, but it's been worth it. In addition to this blog, as I mentioned last month, I've become an author on Celiac.com's website which is really exciting, but finding the time between working full-time, having a social life and exercising, and researching Celiac news, and...well, you get the picture. I need like 8 more hours in each day, please!!
Receiving emails from newly diagnosed Celiacs has become the main source of the comments left for me to respond to. I'm amazed, though I shouldn't be, at the number of women...yes women vs. men who seem to have struggled for so many years and were ultimately diagnosed with this disease. The majority who have written to me range in age from the early 40's to late 60's. My heart truly goes out to these folks who have been struggling for so long with no answers...until now. Now, I hope they can find a way to celebrate, even through the confusion because it does get better, and better and better. Not to say they won't have days of feeling completely overwhelmed with what their "new life" will ask of them, but as I've always said and believed, KNOWING is so much better than not knowing. Knowing, means you can face something head-on, with all of your strength and energy and resolve or learn to manage with ABUNDANCE...whatever it may be.
I have emailed back and forth with a woman in southern California who was also recently diagnosed and really struggling with finding safe restaurants to eat at, and with the whole concept of eating out at restaurants period, which can be quite daunting, intimidating and scary. It honestly takes a long time to feel confident walking into a new restaurant you have never visited before and being assertive about what you can and cannot eat as a Celiac, and making sure the server and chef got the message loud and clear. This is especially true when eating out with larger groups of friends, family or colleagues - you must press the issue for your own safety, regardless of how uncomfortable you might feel. Being clear and upfront about what you cannot eat always beats the dread of two hours later knowing that you were poisoned and dealing with the inevitable 2-3 weeks of feeling "hung over"...at least that's how it is in my case!
So, this woman suggested that I begin talking about WHERE Celiacs can safely eat and which restaurants around our country not only are safe, but even promote their own gluten-free menus. I say Bravo! It's a great idea and one that will require much research on my part, but something I am excited and looking forward to doing - great suggestion, my Celiac friend. I have posted several gluten-free restaurants on my blog from my travels and have had great success at these lovely eating establishments; however, it's important to find more "main-stream" places to eat that allow for a safe and enjoyable dining experience...actually, we would all just take the safe part of that sentence!
As I research these new restaurants and begin to delve into this new realm of information, I will continuously post my findings both on this blog and on my Celiac.com blog, in order to better-reach those reading and searching for some advice and answers. I will begin though, by listing some chain restaurants found nationwide that have their own gluten-free menus. Even when ordering off of these menus, please, please, please remind your server that your food must be prepared in a safe environment without any cross-contamination.
Also, if any of you find other gluten-free restaurants PLEASE email me or submit a comment on one of my blogs so that we can add them to the ongoing list that's being created:
- PF Changs China Bistro
- Outback Steak House
- Claim Jumper
- Baja Fresh - just make sure you are eating CORN tortillas
- Bristol Farms - they have a cafe in some locations
- Whole Foods Market - their salad and soup bars are largely gluten-free
Eat safely. Eat well. Eat with abundance.
As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).