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Starving Amy

The Unwanted Mystery Ingredient From Eating Out

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I'm new to this game of minding gluten and eating out and dealing with "gluten free" things from sources behind a door. 

 

A month ago I thought my gluten free pasta made me sick from some sort of contamination. 

Turns out, I just don't handle quinoa well. That mystery is solved.

 

Today I had a full day of eating out. I am now broke, no moolah, and feel like poop. 

 

I had a "Pacific Love" shake from some juicer in DTLA. The only things in it that might have made me sick would be the royal jelly. I have read sometimes royal jelly is packed with gluten powder or capsules. I also added a "plant based protein." Perhaps it's quinoa based. I wrote for the answers. Here's to hoping they'll tell me. 

 

I felt unnaturally full after drinking that shake. That's usually a precursor to an episode but that feeling eventually passed leaving me feeling OK. But, again - I can't really be too sure as my symptoms come up and then hide themselves before returning. My flare-ups can be tricky to follow.

 

What I think is most likely the issue is an overpriced dinner I got bamboozled into having with friends at some spot in DTLA that's supposed to be all the things I'd want - vegetarian, vegan, gluten free… I had potato croquettes that were ordered for the whole table. I asked the waitress if they're gluten-free and she said, yes. I just looked at the menu at home and it says they also have "salted cod?" It was just a potato ball lightly fried with what seemed like light cheese inside… so this might be a problem. For the main coarse I ate a Brazilian chicken stew with okra served with polenta and black beans… nothing seems gluten about the meal - it wasn't even a stew… HEH... but …. ugh. I feel like I just walked into a pool of allergy causing hell. 

 

I wrote them too and told them I am pretty sick after my trip to their restaurant. I usually find most restaurants don't have the decent to write me back. I am always very courteous in my initial email so IDK.

 

So lame. I'm getting fearful of restaurants and angry at their owners. 

 

Does anyone else go through this? Can you share your experiences?

 

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I avoid going out. I have sustained a lot of damage from celiac disease (anemia, fracture, etc) and I have another year or so to heal. I do not need any set backs. Does not mean that I can not go out and have fun. I attended a university basketball game with friends. I ate before I went, we went for dinner and then I treated myself with a bag of chips. Did I miss out? No! I had a blast with my friends ( and our team won!)

Keep a Go Picnic box in your car at all times to avoid breaking down and ordering foods that you have not researched.

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For various reasons, I eat out quite a bit more than I'd like (if I had my way, I'd live in my kitchen. Alas.). I super-careful about ingredients, and ask a lot of questions. Since you ate at several different places and had a variety of foods, it's hard to say what may have caused the problems. If the croquettes were gluten-free (which I find odd, but maybe it was that kind of restaurant), it's possible there were seasonings on the food that were not. 

 

I tend to haunt restaurant websites, and, if necessary, I call during non-peak hours to discuss the menu in advance. If that's not possible, then I make it clear with every person I encounter that I'm gluten free. 

 

I've eaten out at many DTLA places, and have generally had great experiences. I say generally because, yeah, sometimes the food is way too pricey and the restaurants way too crowded. 

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For various reasons, I eat out quite a bit more than I'd like (if I had my way, I'd live in my kitchen. Alas.). I super-careful about ingredients, and ask a lot of questions. Since you ate at several different places and had a variety of foods, it's hard to say what may have caused the problems. If the croquettes were gluten-free (which I find odd, but maybe it was that kind of restaurant), it's possible there were seasonings on the food that were not. 

 

I tend to haunt restaurant websites, and, if necessary, I call during non-peak hours to discuss the menu in advance. If that's not possible, then I make it clear with every person I encounter that I'm gluten free. 

 

I've eaten out at many DTLA places, and have generally had great experiences. I say generally because, yeah, sometimes the food is way too pricey and the restaurants way too crowded.

Thanks for the suggestion of calling these places and asking them beforehand. It would be good to know just how serious they take people's illnesses.

I got a response from the juicer and it turns out they're using a protein powder that claims it's gluten free but its main bulker is brewer's yeast. So there's that. It says it's a vegetable based protein powder too but it has quinoa in it… Which I would consider a seed or grain. SO there's that too. I had a pretty uncomfortable reaction to it. The protein powder in question is called Garden of Life. I wrote them and told them I had a reaction to their product and it was probably the brewer's yeast. Very uneducated/dishonest of them.

As far as the croquettes and the food at Wood Spoon, we'll see. The place is the atypical highly rated, only because it's the fashionable hipster thing to do, hole in the wall. The boundless lemming reviews do not reflect what it really is. I do question everything I ate from them. I usually don't in the DTLA area but this place, who can't be bothered to have a real website, an email to write and discuss, a Facebook page, or to even have a functioning front house and wait staff - concerns me. I need to be better about not eating places where my friends think I should go. I just feel like I need my confirmed tests to hold in hand and smack them with while saying, "No - bad friend." ;p

 

I avoid going out. I have sustained a lot of damage from celiac disease (anemia, fracture, etc) and I have another year or so to heal. I do not need any set backs. Does not mean that I can not go out and have fun. I attended a university basketball game with friends. I ate before I went, we went for dinner and then I treated myself with a bag of chips. Did I miss out? No! I had a blast with my friends ( and our team won!)

Keep a Go Picnic box in your car at all times to avoid breaking down and ordering foods that you have not researched.

Yea after I finally get the tests done, I'll know how bad I am. My tested and confirmed gluten intolerant friend thinks I may have extensively hurt my intestines because of my other allergies and the intensity I am experiencing symptoms, now. She says if you go long enough the damage can trigger a litney of other issues. So, we'll see. If I have to eat indoors - fine. I'll save money and such. I usually take a bag of food with me but I also do not have a car, I share my sigother's so having a go box isn't always an option for me.

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Amy...brewers yeast and quinoa are gluten free. Ditto for royal jelly but as always, labels need reading or more questions need to be asked. It sounds like you need more food education before venturing out to eat.  Anything done as a croquette generally has breadcrumbs on the outside and probably were fried in a shared fryer.  Unless you asked specific questions about the stew you had, it may or may not be gluten free but I have never seen any stew in a restaurant that was gluten free. 

 

There is nothing wrong with a restaurant that does not have a website or a Facebook page. You can always pick up the phone and call them to speak to them directly about your food needs. Direct contact is better anyway. I know that can be challenging for the younger crowd but the world does not revolve around Facebook and the internet.  Once you learn how to question waitstaff and learn food ingredients, plus allow time for healing your GI tract, eating out becomes much easier.

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My tactic if I have to eat out is always, always email the place in advance. I wouldn't arrive 'unannounced' and expect to eat safely (and I actually sent something back once because I wasn't happy with how they prepared it... I never thought I'd have the guts to do that)

 

I prefer email because I can make sure I ask all the questions I need to, and they can take the time they need to get the answers and come back to me. I usually say something like 'please can you tell me about how you prevent cross contamination in your kitchen' - leaving it open so they can show how much they do (or don't) know about it. I've had some really good responses (and subsequent good meals) this way - there are a few places I'd like to try that haven't replied but I'm going to follow them up with a phonecall I think. 

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Just unravelled the comment above mine - count me out. 
 

[Edit: which has since been removed]

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Yea - I too do my research before. This, unfortunately, was a - "Hey I'm in town NOW…" no forewarning situation.  I really wish people were more considerate and let me know in advance when they were coming. 

 

But again - I really also worry about being a stick in the mud for everyone around me, too. I don't mind going somewhere everyone wants to eat as long as there's a salad, at least. I think going out to eat is just tricky. In the normal person's world, with healthy GI's, it's generally not one of those activities they plan out with much advance notice. 

 

As a former waitress I think the real issue is having respect, as a restaurant owner/staff, for health issues. It's like the nut allergy example. Everyone goes out to eat and should have that luxury. If you know you're serving people - you know they aren't all identical and that some have serious allergies. I have worked with two kinds of wait staff… ones who don't care about their customer's health and, imo, should be fired. and one's who understand and respect their customer's illness. If someone tells you they're allergic to nuts you better darn well be ready to serve that person or be able to say, I am sorry. No room for a mistake there. It's also a lot like a bartender serving coke when someone specifically asks for diet coke… if you ignore it and serve coke - and they're diabetic. Then you very well might kill someone. 

 

I know it's good to be on the defense in restaurants, I am learning the strategies, but I definitely think the ones who have no respect for their customer's should be weeded out too. It's beyond a matter of principal when there are real dangers on the line. 

 

 

 

My tactic if I have to eat out is always, always email the place in advance. I wouldn't arrive 'unannounced' and expect to eat safely (and I actually sent something back once because I wasn't happy with how they prepared it... I never thought I'd have the guts to do that)

 

I prefer email because I can make sure I ask all the questions I need to, and they can take the time they need to get the answers and come back to me. I usually say something like 'please can you tell me about how you prevent cross contamination in your kitchen' - leaving it open so they can show how much they do (or don't) know about it. I've had some really good responses (and subsequent good meals) this way - there are a few places I'd like to try that haven't replied but I'm going to follow them up with a phonecall I think. 

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We are different, as celiacs.  This dilemma of going out with friends on the fly will always exist for us.  It will take time to figure out how you will deal with it.  Personally, I choose to put the focus on being out with friends.  It was difficult at first, eating plain rice at the Japanese restaurant, or just having a soda at the pizza place that doesn't have anything for me.  But I prefer NOT to dictate the restaurant choice when going out with large groups.  I just make do and enjoy the conversation- which really is more important.  It's not going to kill me and I can always get something later by myself.  I will always put my health above taking chances.  If the wait staff doesn't seem knowledgable or the restaurant doesn't look to offer anything I can eat, I simply don't eat.  Don't get me wrong- food is important to me.  I have broken down in tears after attending a business meeting involving dinner when I made arrangements weeks in advance in order to eat safely.  They had no idea and wanted me to go through the buffet and get whatever looked like it was gluten free.  Tears or rage!!!  It's not always a walk in the park.  But this is what we've got and some people have got it worse!

 

Ultimately, you are in charge of your health.  You can't depend on others and I wouldn't recommend asking merely "Is this gluten free?"  More pointed questions may be needed and lots of people ask to see ingredient lists.  You can eat mostly at home, but I don't think that will necessarily teach you what questions to ask- although it will allow you to heal and won't expose you to possible damage.  It's a learning process and you will determine your own limits and boundaries.  

 

Good Luck!

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