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upsilamba

New To Celiac - Trying To Plan For 2 Day Meeting Out Of Town?

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Hey everyone,

 

I'm newly diagnosed with celiac a few weeks ago, and just started at a new job a week before that (very exciting!). I've been feeling amazing in those few weeks since I stopped eating gluten, which has been wonderful, but I'm still trying to figure out all the social situations/logistics of eating at restaurants etc - and I don't know how sensitive I am yet to contamination and things like that, so I'm feeling really paranoid about everything. I had my first experience getting glutened at a supposedly gluten free restaurant Thursday and I'm still feeling the after effects, blech : (

 

My big worry right now is I have a 2 day "retreat" for the new job coming up in just a couple days, with all of my new bosses and some other new colleagues - so I really don't want to make a big deal out of all my new-found food issues! I talked to the person organizing the meeting and she said "oh, a couple other people eat gluten free too, so don't worry, there will be gluten free food with all the catering." I'm regretting now I didn't press her for more specifics - I think the other people are gluten free by choice, which is great since it means they're already planning on gluten free food, but I don't think they have the same contamination concerns that I do. There's also a big dinner on the first night - I looked up the restaurant she said she was considering, and they don't have any menu posted online (it's some kind of barbecue place).

 

The city the retreat is in isn't exactly the type of place with tons of special diet/gluten free options, so I'm not sure I can trust the catering or the restaurant. But the person organizing the food is out of the office now until the retreat starts, so now I have no way to get info on who's catering or what restaurant it will be. Should I just bring all my own food for the 2 days? (I won't have a fridge at the hotel, though, and I'm taking mass transit out there so I'd like to pack lightly). Or should I just pack a few snacks and trust the "gluten free" catering/restaurant and hope I don't get sick?

 

I'm also not really sure what questions to ask the restaurant, since I haven't done any eating out yet - and I'm not even sure where it will be since when I called the place I had been told, they said the reservation wasn't actually confirmed yet, so I may not know until that morning where it will be.

 

I know this is a lot of questions, but if you guys have any advice on dealing with business catering/traveling/restaurants, and also on how to deal with these food problems in work situations in a way that doesn't make you come across as super needy/crazy, i'd be so grateful!!

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Most hotels (assuming it has a restaurant) can do safe gluten-free options. Call the hotel directly to arrange how to order your food.

Call the restaurant and ask if they have gluten-free options. Bbq can be ok - stick with meat and plain side like corn if they sound promising. Google for a local (to that area) celiac group - look at restaurant ratings. Any ratings for that restaurant?

Hints: boiled or fried eggs , not scrambled. Fresh fruit - apples, oranges.

Go to a grocery store and grab gluten-free lunch meats, crackers, hummus, fruit, veggies. Buy a small cooler and leave it at the hotel IF they can't provide a fridge.

Take a purse/bag you can slip snacks in. Buy a small cooler that can hold meats, etc. Go buy some Kind bars, etc. and keep with you. Google for any gluten-free restaurant in the area and find a way to go for a meal...it helps to have a solid safe meal instead of picking.

You'll get better at this as you go.

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Ditto on the eggs. Hard boiled eggs are great to travel with and can be put onto salads when you need some protein. When I travel I make muffins ahead of time, pack nuts and seeds, bring a few Lara bars, and bring some fruits and veggies. In restaurants, irony eat salads or eggs and bacon(after checking the packaging). I avoid restaurant food when I can.

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When eating at restaurants, I ask for the manager and ask questions about how exactly they cook it (what kind of seasonings, is it made with the same grease that something has been fried in, separate utensils from gluten food...). Sometimes you can feel them out and see if they have any clue with what you are talking about. If I don't think they have a clue what is or isn't 'gluten free,' I prefer to just get a salad (no croutons!). Whole foods, such as chicken, vegetables, and fruit, is always the safest way to go.

 

I know the gluten-free lifestyle can be overwhelming at first. We've all been there, and at times it still is. When you get back, I would recommend doing some research. Gluten can be in 'hidden ingredients,' such as natural flavorings and food starch even. If you have an iPhone, that has been a tremendous help to look things up when at chain restaurants. Don't hesitate to ask questions. This forum is a great support. Congrats on the new job! Hope all goes well so you can enjoy your retreat!

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Thanks so much for all the advice! It's really wonderful to have people who've been there and learned some of the tricks/hazards to turn to while I'm still such a newbie, it's just really comforting.

 

I did end up packing some hard boiled eggs - thanks for that suggestion! Maybe I'll make muffins my goal for next time I travel. I've always loved baking, and I have a whole collection of different gluten free flours to try making blends with, but I've been too intimidated to use them so far. I think I need to let go of all my vanity about it, and let go of all my favorite old recipes, and just accept i'm going to make some things that turn out pretty weird for a while. i do miss baking for other people especially, but I don't want to inflict anything gross on them : )

 

I ended up not going to the dinner for other reasons, so that worked out alright (i ended up with a couple packets of annie's gluten-free mac and cheese for dinner, cooked with water from my hotel coffee maker, haha...hopefully I'll figure out solutions that are a little less sad for next time, but at least i'm not starving!). And I packed a bunch of snacks to supplement the salad buffet offerings here - I thought about getting meat from the sandwich bar at lunch, then watched the guy touching the sandwich bread then all of the meats again and again with the same pair of gloves on and decided not worth it...I have a feeling I'm going to have those moments a lot now.

 

And thanks for the warnings - I've been doing my best to learn all about issues like natural flavorings and "food starch" and "spices" - and doing tons of searching on my smartphone to try to find what's safe to eat (I may need to upgrade my data plan, haha). But it's made me super paranoid now! I just assume everything's unsafe until proof that seems trustworthy that it's OK. I think I need to start focusing on finding more things that I actually *can* eat. It's so frustrating knowing that some things are probably fine, but I haven't done enough research on everything yet to find out, so I'm just passing on a lot of stuff for now. But I'm cooking a lot more and trying new recipes, which really has been nice.

 

Thanks again everyone : )

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