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How To Deal With Servers Who Don't Think Celiac Is Real

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29 replies to this topic

#1 ChelseaS

 
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Posted 05 June 2014 - 06:14 PM

I just found out I have celiac a month ago. So far the diet hasn't been that difficult, except for when I go out to restaurants. I have seen a lot of articles and posts on Facebook about people saying gluten free eating is just a fad diet and that gluten sensitivity doesn't really exist. Obviously, this isn't true, but I seem to be treated like that when I go to restaurants. I actually had a waiter laugh at me the other day when I asked him if he was absolutely sure that the chips were 100% corn. He laughed and said sarcastically, "I love people who just found out they can't eat gluten! Don't worry, hun, you're fine."

I feel stupid for believing this waiter now, as the next 24 hours were not fun. I know I could have called the manager over and said my whole speech about celiac and CC and how they have to clean their prep areas and change gloves, etc. but I hate doing that. I have always been a quiet and well-mannered person in restaurants and I never complain. I hate the feeling I get when these servers are looking at me like the "bitchy" customer with too many demands who is just doing this for attention. 

So my question is this: How do you deal with servers who don't take celiac seriously?

 

Thanks for ideas!


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#2 kareng

 
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Posted 05 June 2014 - 06:26 PM

I say I have to eat gluten-free for medical reasons. Or I have celiac disease. I even said to a waiter ". I will get sick".

That said - you have been diagnosed for 1 month. You shouldn't be chancing all these places until you are more healed and know what is gluten-free and what isn't. For example - those chips were 100% corn but you didn't know that you can't have them because they are fried in the same oil that gluten is. That isn't gluten-free. Gluten from the gluten items can fall off and be in the oil . Haven't we all gotten an onion rings piece in our fries?

You will have to speak up and tell them its a medical need not a fad. But you might want to wait a few months before you take that on.
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#3 Darissa

 
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Posted 05 June 2014 - 07:23 PM

We have actually had to walk out of many restaurants that have a "gluten free menu". Don't be afraid to. Yes, its frustrating, and disappointing, but If I can't talk with someone who understands, or they laugh it off as in your case, we don't chance it. I am sick for 2-3 days, and so is my daughter. I am extra careful because of my daughter. Good luck with this life long journey. It does get easier, and as you feel better, the more easier it is! You find out quickly you don't want to be sick~ We have a few restaurants that we trust that we go to when we travel or if we go out in our own town. We typically just don't eat out, but we travel, so its hard.  We have been doing this for years, and you will see all kinds of responses from people in restaurants, from those who really want to help you, and those who don't believe or laugh it off.  So sorry.


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#4 StephanieL

 
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Posted 05 June 2014 - 07:49 PM

If they insist without asking the kitchen/mamager-leave. It is not worth it.  There are some places that are better than others but there are also some servers who are better prepared than others!  


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#5 beth01

 
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Posted 05 June 2014 - 08:00 PM

I am deathly afraid of restaurants right now but if I was going to go I would do some research.

 

Do they offer gluten free items?  Have other's with celiac been there and not had problems with cross contamination? Ask if they use a premixed seasoning to flavor their food.

 

Call ahead if you can.  Explain your situation and ask them if they feel they can accommodate you and your needs.  If they can, ask if any of their servers are familiar with your needs and if they are working when you are going to be there and can request them. Don't go on busy nights, the kitchen is crazy. Never order anything fried. If they bring you a salad with croutons, keep the salad and ask for one without.

 

If you get a server that treats you that way maybe ask to speak to the manager. 


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#6 KCG91

 
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Posted 06 June 2014 - 03:21 AM

That particular waiter, I would have walked out (or not eaten while everyone else did) and followed up with a letter or email to the manager afterwards. Walking out or not eating is not ideal, it's awkward (and hungry!) but it would make a point. 

I try to email the place in advance and explain that I am really looking forward to eating there but that I have coeliac so I need to check a few things out with them first - what can they provide and what do they do to prevent cross contamination? I've had some really good responses (and good meals!) this way - it means that staff and managers who do care can check things out for you rather than trying to do things as quickly as they do when they're waiting on you. 

Then, when we go somewhere, I always make the booking and ask them to note down that I have coeliac. I then order last and say that I have coeliac, I'm not a fad dieter (may as well confront that head on) and my meal has to be 100% gluten free. If they argue with that or disrespect you they don't deserve your business - don't give it to them. Mostly I find a smile and a bit of flattery ('it looks so good! Wish I could eat it all!') goes a long way. 

There are a few places where I eat regularly that I really do trust so I don't email ahead but every time I make sure the waiting staff understand at the table.


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#7 IrishHeart

 
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Posted 06 June 2014 - 05:23 AM

I would have asked to speak to the manager immediately. The waiter's response was smug and condescending and there's no excuse for that.

 

I am always polite and I always get respectful responses, but the one time I didn't? well, let's just say that kiddo never made fun of anyone asking for a  G F menu again.  ^_^

 

If they cannot accommodate your dietary needs, fine...go elsewhere. I do not expect every place to do this for me.

And not every place that boasts a G F menu gets it right anyway. 

 

I say "I have celiac and I need to be very careful about gluten cross-contamination.  Can you ensure my meal

is G F?"  and after they  tell me their kitchen practices and I am okay with them, I  eat there.

I always vet the place beforehand anyway. I rely on other celiacs' recommendations.

 

but I also agree with Karen that maybe you should eat cleanly and prepare your own food for a the first few months so you can heal your gut a little bit.

before venturing out too much. 


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#8 StephanieL

 
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Posted 06 June 2014 - 07:04 AM

Yes yes yes to the calling and researching ahead!  If you call, be sure it isn't at a busy time!  I try for between 2-3 in the afternoon to catch between lunch and dinner!

 

I have to say that there are some places that are AMAZING!  I emailed Legal Seafood to ask if they could accommodate my DS who has a list of food allergies on top of Celiac disease.  I got an email back within hours asking for my phone number.  At 8:00 on a Friday night (could there be a busier time for a restaurant??) the manager CALLED me!  He asked what we needed, when we would be there and insisted on being there when we come and making the reservation for us that minute!  Now we haven't eaten there yet (the trip is in a few weeks) but if they are going to go to those lengths I feel MUCH better about even walking into the place!!


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#9 CaliSparrow

 
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Posted 06 June 2014 - 07:35 AM

I stopped eating out until getting in better control of this thing. I haven't been glutened this year *knock on wood* because, with two lucky exceptions, everything I ate, I prepared myself. It's getting easier to speak up for myself the more I've healed (and with experience). Currently, I let my husband go to battle for me once I begin stuttering but that's happening less and less as I become stronger. He is gluten intolerant and doesn't have as severe a reaction but, because of me, his reaction towards the restaurant is severe when they serve him gluten. As he goes to restaurants with friends and business associates, he educates along the way. Hopefully, he's clearing a path as he doesn't mince words ;)

Someone on here says she only goes to fine restaurants because the chains aren't always well-trained (or trained at all). Whenever someone gives me a cavalier attitude, I pass on the meal. I've eaten a little something a few hours before going out with others (with snacks in my purse for later). That way, I'm fed and, if it feels safe to eat in a restaurant, I still have room to make that decision too. I've also gone ahead of time to talk to the manager and can usually get a good sense from that. It's getting easier to tell who understands the seriousness and who doesn't.

Use the words "severe celiac" (it elicits a more serious consideration) and there are also restaurant cards to print: http://www.celiactra.../cards/english/

I haven't used the card. Like I said, but for a few exceptions, I stopped eating in restaurants until my gut has had more time to heal.
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Last glutening: 12/28/13 (long time FOR ME!)
April 2014: no more reintroducing foods, not rocking the boat, no studying (except during insomnia)
March 2014: Reintroducing intolerant foods. Yolks & banana are a "no". Dairy NO
Year 2: Mental clarity improving. Hello to normalcy.
October 2013: Functional Medicine doc ref to cardiologist for possible sick sinus syndrome (deadline May)
September 2013: 55+ food intolerances, mercury poisoning, sIgA 50, leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, hormone disruption, ferritin 7, low Vit D, low Vit B6
January2013: Dairy-Free, Soy-free
November 2012: Gluten-Free
Year 1: Migraines resolved, OCD diminished, Change in skin texture, EyeBrows lifting & eyes bigger, Better memory, Better cognitive function, Better problem-solving capabilities, Lower anxiety level, Better outlook, Arrhythmia reduced, hope

#10 Gemini

 
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Posted 06 June 2014 - 08:24 AM

Yes yes yes to the calling and researching ahead!  If you call, be sure it isn't at a busy time!  I try for between 2-3 in the afternoon to catch between lunch and dinner!

 

I have to say that there are some places that are AMAZING!  I emailed Legal Seafood to ask if they could accommodate my DS who has a list of food allergies on top of Celiac disease.  I got an email back within hours asking for my phone number.  At 8:00 on a Friday night (could there be a busier time for a restaurant??) the manager CALLED me!  He asked what we needed, when we would be there and insisted on being there when we come and making the reservation for us that minute!  Now we haven't eaten there yet (the trip is in a few weeks) but if they are going to go to those lengths I feel MUCH better about even walking into the place!!

New England is such a gluten-free friendly place, isn't it?  It may be crazy in other ways but food?  We take eating very seriously here and most restaurants worth their salt do a really good job of serving a safe meal.  Legal Seafoods gluten-free menu is top notch!

 

To the OP.......I would have just gotten up politely and, after speaking with the manager about the rudeness of his waitstaff, I would have walked out and never gone back.  I also would trash the restaurant (from a gluten-free point of view) on Celiac websites, to make sure no one else would be subjected to that kind of ignorant behavior. And if I didn't smack that smarmy moron up the side of the head on my way out, it would be his lucky day.  You need to learn to be more assertive and I know that is hard for some people to do. You always start out pleasant but if you get a lack of respect for your medical issues, it's time to speak up.  Once you do this, eating out becomes easier...and it will anyway, once you master the diet and how to dine out.  It takes time and practice.  :)


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#11 Seeking2012

 
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Posted 06 June 2014 - 10:06 AM

I just found out I have celiac a month ago. So far the diet hasn't been that difficult, except for when I go out to restaurants. I have seen a lot of articles and posts on Facebook about people saying gluten free eating is just a fad diet and that gluten sensitivity doesn't really exist. Obviously, this isn't true, but I seem to be treated like that when I go to restaurants. I actually had a waiter laugh at me the other day when I asked him if he was absolutely sure that the chips were 100% corn. He laughed and said sarcastically, "I love people who just found out they can't eat gluten! Don't worry, hun, you're fine."

I feel stupid for believing this waiter now, as the next 24 hours were not fun. I know I could have called the manager over and said my whole speech about celiac and CC and how they have to clean their prep areas and change gloves, etc. but I hate doing that. I have always been a quiet and well-mannered person in restaurants and I never complain. I hate the feeling I get when these servers are looking at me like the "bitchy" customer with too many demands who is just doing this for attention. 

So my question is this: How do you deal with servers who don't take celiac seriously?

 

Thanks for ideas!

 

A lot of people don't know what Celiac is. And I can understand people who have that attitude. Non-Celiac gluten-sensitivity is not 100% proven yet in the medical science as far as how it harms the body goes. And gluten-free outside of Celiac is a fad because of the lack of scientific proof to back it up. So people think "Huh, what's celiac? Oh you are one of those fad people." Even Michael Savage recently ridiculed non-celiac gluten-sensitive people saying they make it all up in their minds, but I believe he is wrong.

 

I would never believe the waiter that corn chips are 100% corn. It's more like 50% white flour to 50% corn meal for all corn chips and cornbread and things like that. I am facing the same thing you are. Now I am "that guy" or "that girl" in the restaurant who has to make sure that everything is gluten-free. But here's the thing. I'm not going to be bitchy; I'm going to be factual and insistent. And if I am not taken seriously I will walk out. And here's why. More people are getting autoimmune diseases and food sensitivities. The rate of Celiac disease was proven back in 2000 to be 1 in 133. I believe it has probably gone up since that time.

 

This is not made up or in their heads. We have to teach these restaurants that if they want our service and the service of other customers who are also health-conscious and/or have real diagnoses that they need to take us seriously. And if they don't, they'll soon notice a bad review show up on their yelp / google listing.


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- Diagnosed Celiac in May 2014. Gluten-free diet immediately

- Tested VERY high for thyroid antibodies May 2014 but T4, T3 and TSH are in "normal" ranges

- Have experienced chronic fatigue and decreased cognitive and memory function for years

- Sister has been diagnosed with Celiac, autism, schizophrenia and depression

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- Mom has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes


#12 w8in4dave

 
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Posted 06 June 2014 - 10:10 AM

I have had some bad experiences , I have also had great experiences, One time I asked for a gluten-free menu and they said they didn't have a gluten-free lunch menu. So my minds starts to turn and thinking of what kind of salad to have, I asked if they had a separate fryer she said no but they cook them at 400º I said that won't kill Gluten. She said : is this just a diet or an allergy. I just stared at her and said an allergy.(knew she wouldn't understand) I had a plain salad nothing eles. Pffttt! Never go there again! LOL 


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#13 Georgia_guy

 
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Posted 06 June 2014 - 08:19 PM

To the OP, I spent 6+ years in restaurant management. If you tell a manager that you have an allergy, a well trained and intelligent manager will be jumping through hoops to accommodate you, or tell you straight up, "I'm sorry, I can't guarantee that dish is safe for you". Majority of servers (especially with the Hollywood gluten-free fad now) do think that gluten-free is a diet (like counting carbs) and not a medical need. Always when you go out use the word "allergy" and instead of asking for a gluten-free menu, ask for an "allergen menu" (normally gluten-free items will be there and on a separate gluten-free menu). With the allergen menu, you will still have to sift through, but the allergens (like wheat or gluten) will be listed.
*****I know celiac is not an allergy, but in restaurant lingo, it is an allergy, that is why I say to use the word allergy*****
If the manager blows it off as nothing, then by all means, get up and leave right then. I would also in that case contact the corporate office. Every restaurant I ever worked in had a very clear allergen policy that every effort was to be made to ensure a safe meal (all the say from diabetics, to vegans, to peanuts, to celiac) for 2 reasons: it's a loss of money from sales to not make every effort, and it can be a lawsuit if you fail after promising you can make it happen. Keep in mind though, a pronise they can make it happen is NOT 100%, it simply means they will do everything they can. When I was managing, I had numerous pictures of ingredient labels on my phone from taking pictures to show guests what was in the seasoning mixes, meats like bacon (kosher mainly), desserts (dairy mainly), etc. If the manager does that, then you can pretty much guarantee they are doing everything in their power. But your best option for "is this gluten-free?" on the menu would be from the corporate office since they have the full listings, and the legal department.
(Sorry this went on for a while)
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Been having issues since forever
First issues I can connect to celiac was in middle school
Vit deficiencies, muscle spasms, fatigue 😴😴, migraines 😣😣, abdominal pain, joint pain are most prominent
April 2014- Nutritionist suggested celiac
May 2014- "reverse gluten challenge" © 2014 by "georgia_guy" 😁
28 May 2014- Officlal member of the Silly Yak Club per tests done at private lab out of pocket-have to stand corrected on previos statements, I have now seen the actual results...IgA defficient, IgG was high on both tests
29 May 2014- Start of Gluten Free life!
I am weird and random, and I proudly claim it!
GOOD MORNING Y'ALL! 😁😀😜😛😎😷😋😇😏


#14 Gaye of PA

 
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Posted 08 June 2014 - 11:55 AM

Yes, I use the word "allergy" too.  Or "I am allergic and can get very sick."  ALLERGY is a word that helps people understand the seriousness of my situation, and even though "allergy" is not the truth of it, it does more easily get the message across to food servers.  And lately I've even been using it in restaurants that have an official gluten free menu, since a lot of non-celiacs now use the gluten free menu.

 

I have found that even today, a lot of people don't know what "celiac" is until I explain it to them.  OHHHH, you mean "gluten free"!


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Gaye of PA

Newly diagnosed gluten intolerant in February 2008

#15 luvs2eat

 
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Posted 09 June 2014 - 04:30 AM

We just don't eat out anymore. I've talked the talk and ordered a plain salad only to find a random tortilla strip or fried Chinese noodle buried in there. Last month I did go to a Red Robin in Miami, FL where my daughter's been many times and always has a conversation with the manager... who told us just how gluten-free aware they are. The burger bun was so pretty and tasted so good, I was almost afraid to keep eating it and kept asking, "Do you SWEAR that this delicious bun is gluten-free??

 

I love PF Changs and know their gluten-free service is good but mistakes can be made with the very best of intentions and I don't EVER want to go thru a real glutening again.


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