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Eating Out Question
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Hi.

I have an eating out question. I'm taking a trip to visit family and will spend a lot of meals eating out with friends. I have been looking for restaurants with gluten free menus. How much do I need to say to the restaurant with a gluten free menu. Do I need to check with the manager, or only talk to the waiter. Or should I be doing something else? Thanks.

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Usually your waiter will bring the gluten-free menu if the restaurant has one. When you order, tell the waiter that you are ordering off the gluten-free menu. If you are very sensitive and need to find out how strictly they are segregating the gluten-free food to decide whether you are comfortable eating there, then you would talk to the manager.

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I would talk to the manager. I have ordered off gluten free menus only to be given a plate with some gluteny thing on it. The one waitress said she'd just scrape it off! You have to be your own advocate. Good luck!

Diane

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At the best places, the waiter will automatically have the manager come talk to you and make sure that the food is prepared correctly (and guide your menu choices so you know what's safe and what's not). But at some places the waitstaff understand enough that you don't need to bother with that.

A great way to check is to ask if something you know isn't safe would be safe. The waitperson should either know or go find out for you and come back and say "no" but then offer something else on the menu or a compromise. I haven't actually tested this because, for the most part, it's pretty apparent when someone knows their stuff and when they don't.

Good signs: your food comes out separately and is described to you before it's set down, the waitperson takes notes, the manager comes to see you and double-check that all is well.

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I would talk to the manager. I have ordered off gluten free menus only to be given a plate with some gluteny thing on it. The one waitress said she'd just scrape it off! You have to be your own advocate. Good luck!

Diane

This has happened to me several times. Even after the manager has come by the table. Sometimes the chef even comes and talks to me, and that's when I feel the most assured. I try to just find something on the menu that isn't prepared with gluten in the first place (if that is possible) like fish, meat and a salad and then just stress, no bread, no croutons etc.

I have to say 60 percent of the time it still comes out with bread (or cheese which I don't do). I think if this is not on your radar you just have no idea how careful you need to be or how many things have gluten. Friday night my husband and I were out and I was asking the waitress if a meal had gluten and she was like "no I don't think so...you should be fine." Really assuring, not.

I think it was okay because I felt fine yesterday, but she's young and doesn't know nor does she care.

I keep hoping as I get further into this it'll get easier to eat out. I mostly eat at home.

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Thanks everyone for your replies. They are really helpful. I will be eating out a lot with friends while i am on a trip so I want to make sure I take the right steps to stay healthy.

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Thanks everyone for your replies. They are really helpful. I will be eating out a lot with friends while i am on a trip so I want to make sure I take the right steps to stay healthy.

I find that it's easiest to eat at either fast food restaurants (because they just have to change gloves and make you food without a bun) or really nice restaurants. Some family-owned places that specialize in cuisines naturally lower in gluten are good, like Lebanese or Thai food, for example, but I think those are spottier. The really swanky places charge an arm and a leg but take great care of you, and the fast food places are cheap and horrible for you but relatively safe if you order the right things.

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I've found that even when a restaurant offers a gluten-free menu, sometimes the server is new and hasn't been trained properly in submitting the order to the chef. Now, I always ask the server if he/she has received training in serving meals off the gluten-free menu; if not, I respectfully request another server or even the manager. I explain how very dangerous gluten is to me, and I've never had a server seem upset--actually, they seem relieved.

Also, if a restaurant doesn't have a gluten-free menu, you're usually safe with a plain chicken breast or a steak and potato. Mashed potatoes, though, can be dangerous--oddly enough, many restaurants use flour in their mashed potatoes, and if you order mashers without gravy, many times they will automatically pour gravy on them, and then you have to send the whole meal back to the kitchen. I've found that eating at Tahoe Joe's or Outback Steakhouse is usually a safe experience.

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Hi there,

I'd second the suggestion to order something "naturally" gluten free. But then do stress the fact that you can't eat wheat, flour (some people don't realise white flour is wheat :/), croutons etc.

I usually also say no sauces/spices on my steak, no salad dressing on the salad. I'd rather have it plain than have them add some wheaty sauce to my awesome food thanks very much!

I've had a salad that had no wheat mentioned in the menu, come served on slices of toast!

So yes, always make sure the waiter understands what you mean when you say no wheat :)

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Thank you once again for all your replies. I actually had a nightmare last night that I was on my trip and accidentally glutened myself by eating Cheerios without thinking. AHHHH! Those dreams always make me extra cautious about what I eat. I wish this gluten filled food wasn't everywhere.

I once had a person (teenager) who was working at a supermarket not know that flour (general baking flour) was made from wheat. I was surprised. I hope to have more knowledgeable restaurant staff.

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I'd say it depends where you go. I was a waiter at a restaurant which had a gluten free menu. All of us Servers were very trained and we were made very aware of cross contamination. I'd talk to the waiter and see if he/she is up to par. If not call the manager. If they have a gluten-free menu, they should be going out of their way to ensure proper handling. Good Luck

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I've been at this almost a month, but we eat out a good bit on the weekends. I've found that chains are easier because you can check their website beforehand. At all the "Mom and Pop" restaurants, I always have to guess. But I am getting better at that - like someone said, meat with no seasonings/sauces and a baked potato.

My latest "you've got to be kidding me" moment is when I discovered that IHOP puts pancake batter in their omelettes. :blink: I've had the BEST experience at Outback - the manager came out and double-checked it. Of course I was embarrassed to death, but I didn't get sick.

Have fun on your trip!

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My first "motel" trip was in March and was a learning experience. Some of the time we were in some small towns were options were limited. I usually tucked a Udi sandwich in my purse & had just a plain ("plain, nothing on it.... Please make my food as boring as you can") salad. I sort of go on my "gut" feeling. If the place feels gluteny, like they serve only one kind of salad then I won't chance it. If they seem to listen and understand I go ahead. I just won't take a chance. The pain isn't worth it any more. Tuck in lots of fresh fruit and snackable foods. !!

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