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Eating out - please help

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Hi all - I just got diagnosed with Celiac disease two weeks ago. It was a total surprise, as I'm pretty much asymptomatic. I've been doing okay because I only eat foods that I make. However, I'm going on road trip my improv ensemble for a performance in 4 weeks. It'll be Friday to Sunday. I'm in a panic, as I don't know how to eat away from home. I can pack some snacks, but there's only so much to bring that doesn't need to be refrigerated. I can't eat Lara bars for every meal! Any ideas for other snacks?

If I find some restaurants on Find Me Gluten Free, I can probably get my friends to go. But I don't really know what to say to a restaurant, specifically. Can anyone give me some specific questions I need to ask, or what I specifically need to tell the restaurant to do in order to prepare me food? I don't know my travel companions that well, so I don't want to inconvenience them. 

I'm so overwhelmed with just figuring out what to do to clean my own kitchen and what I can eat in my house. I'm completely intimidated by going to a restaurant! Any help is greatly appreciated!

 

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Some people avoid eating out for a while, at least until they've healed and are healthy again. If you eat out it might be best to do so in a place that has a gluten-free menu, so they at least demonstrate that they get it. When ordering off the gluten-free menu it might also be a good idea to let them know that you are not a fad dieter, and eat gluten-free due to celiac disease. 


Scott Adams

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

Founder Celiac.com

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Road trip?  Invest in an ice chest.  Cook/reheat meals (that you prepared at home) in your hotel room/house you are visiting.  The grocery store will become your favorite fast food joint.  Target even carries UDI's frozen gluten-free meals.  The lasagne is pretty good!  Find Me gluten-free is a great app except you need to read the reviews.  Find restaurants with reviews written by celiacs.  Find restaurants that have have been recommended by celiac groups at your destination.  

Keep emergency food with you in your purse.  I find that I will often order just a drink and then eat what I have in my purse or I walk out to the car and eat from my cooler while everyone else is eating their food.  Not fun, but it works!  Keeps me from being sick while I am away from home. 

Heck, I roll in my cooler into the nicest hotels.  If there is not a microwave, I ask for one.  

My husband travels for business and find that this works for him.  I travel with my girlfriends and as true friends, they do not hassle me about my food choices or excusing myself to eat in the car.    Now, they do not feel bad at all! 

With a little planning, you can have a blast!  


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Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

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We got one of the electric coolers.  It can run off either the car battery or traditional electric socket.  A lot cleaner and easier to use.  As far as restaurants go, gluten-free Around Me is good.  I just got back from two road trips, and found lots of good and safe places to eat in Denver, Boulder, and Minneapolis.  But make sure you let them know ahead of time that you are celiac, and not, as others have noted, just a fad eater.  There are two great pizza chains here in Omaha that handle things differently for celiacs than just gluten-free, so you always need to inform and double check.  Safe travels.

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If you can bear to eat them, tins of sardines and bags of nuts are good portable source of protein.  On a recent trip to Scotland I discovered the supermarket over the road made some nice bowls of salad, ready to eat, so I didn't go hungry and in fact it would have been a very healthy diet had I not discovered they also sold excellent  gluten-free Scottish shortbread! 

I take my own plastic cutlery and crockery when I travel, easy to carry and nicer than eating out of a tin can if that is all that is available to me. 

When I have to eat out with others and suspect the restaurant would not be able to cater for me, I bring a nut bar with me and drink coffee, having cleared  it with the restaurant first.  They are usually fine about it.


Diagnosed by blood test and endoscopy Spring 2013

Adopted a gluten-free diet in May 2013

 

BRITISH

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I won't be able to reheat food - we'll be on the move most of the time, and we won't have a microwave in our hotel room. I'll bring lara bars, pb&js on gluten free bread, and maybe a cold quinoa salad. But I don't think I'm going to escape this trip without eating at a restaurant. So what I need is a kind of script. What do you tell them/request of them? Yes, I'll tell them I'm not eating gluten-free by choice, that it's a medical necessity. But I can't assume they know what that means, right? So what exactly do you say to restaurant staff? I feel rude telling them how to do their job, which is why I'm trying to get an idea of what you guys say when you go to a restaurant, and how you say it.

Do I need to tell them to clean all pans that they're cooking on, and to clean the surface they prepare it on, so it doesn't come in contact with gluten? I guess I need to ask whether soy sauce is used in the dish, right? What else do I need to say?

I couldn't sleep last night because I'm so anxious about navigating a restaurant. I'd really appreciate if someone could walk me through what they do to eat in a restaurant with Celiac disease.

Thank you!

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First, let them know that you are celiac, not just eating gluten free.  Ask if they have dedicated procedures for their gluten free dishes.  Ask if they are aware of cross-contamination.  Most better restaurants are fully aware of the requirements, and more and more have gluten free menus.  If you have specific concerns (e.g., is there a dedicated pot for gluten-free pasta), feel free to ask.  I have never had someone get upset or annoyed by such questions. 

One other tip.  The last two times I have gotten glutened (where it wasn't my fault) were at a restaurant chain and at a Mexican restaurant, where I specifically asked (twice) if the tortillas were corn or wheat.  I have now learned to stay away from most (not all--Red Robin, P.F. Chang's, etc.) chain restaurants and to watch what I eat in Mexican places--e.g., ask for hard shell tacos. 

Good luck.

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I try toeat

 

 

I won't be able to reheat food - we'll be on the move most of the time, and we won't have a microwave in our hotel room. I'll bring lara bars, pb&js on gluten free bread, and maybe a cold quinoa salad. But I don't think I'm going to escape this trip without eating at a restaurant. So what I need is a kind of script. What do you tell them/request of them? Yes, I'll tell them I'm not eating gluten-free by choice, that it's a medical necessity. But I can't assume they know what that means, right? So what exactly do you say to restaurant staff? I feel rude telling them how to do their job, which is why I'm trying to get an idea of what you guys say when you go to a restaurant, and how you say it.

Do I need to tell them to clean all pans that they're cooking on, and to clean the surface they prepare it on, so it doesn't come in contact with gluten? I guess I need to ask whether soy sauce is used in the dish, right? What else do I need to say?

I couldn't sleep last night because I'm so anxious about navigating a restaurant. I'd really appreciate if someone could walk me through what they do to eat in a restaurant with Celiac disease.

Thank you!

I travel all the time too and after some time get used to knowing what not to do. Usually I try to go to places I know have something safe -- like  Chinese and Thai places --  Just get steamed veggies and rice. I do carry a small spray bottle of Braggs aminos. Otherwise I get salad unless   we stumble on a place that has  a gluten-free Menu. Also I ask to talk to the chef becasue the servers are always trying to please and may say something they  dont understand. Its the chef who knows. -- When I cant get to the chef its sometimes a disaster like last month  when they  brought be a flour tortilla wrap -- That was bad enough but the vegan guy was given fish. There are some places that will never get it!
 


"Ryo tatereba mi ga tatanu"

If we try to serve both sides, we cannot stand our own ground.

Japanese proverb

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

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Anything cooked on a restaurant char-broiler should be safe. The flat grill will always be contaminated because of the other things they cook on it. So I will often order char-broiled steak cooked plain (none of that spice or whatever it is they seem to use on steaks lately). I ask them to use a clean utensil to flip it. Some folks here will  order a salad with no croutons. Sometimes salad can be dicey because the croutons are usually in a bin right next to the veggies and crumbs can fall in. So instead of that I ask for a plain baked potato, uncut (so they don't contaminate it with their knife.


gluten-free since June, 2011

It took 3 !/2 years but my intolerances to corn, soy, and everything else (except gluten) are gone!

Life is good!

 

 

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I'm going to St. Louis. I'll take any recommendations you may have.

Thanks so much everyone. I know I'll get used to this, but it all feels so...awkward to me now. I just have to get over it, but until then, I'm fairly anxious about the whole thing!

 

 

where in the St. Louis area?

 

http://newdayglutenfree.com

 

 


 

 

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Small world department. My wife and i leave for the Lou on Friday. I have been there many, many times. We have family there, and used to go every March for the Missouri Valley basketball tournament. I have not been there since my diagnosis, but the dining scene is sophisticated there. I am sure you can find alternatives. When are you going?  I can do some scouting. But I have already chosen LoRusso's on the Hill, the Italian section of town. They gave a good gluten free menu, including rice pasta dishes, steaks, chicken and fish. My guess is that the Crossing, in Clayton, will have one as well, as will Acero and Bar Italia. 

Check Gluten Free around me. If you don't have the app, get it. Check out Opentable, too. You have to be careful, but don't let this disease win. Life goes on. Be careful, but enjoy. Again, let me know when you are going, so I can do some more scouting and report back. 

I also review a lot on Tripadvisor under the same name. 420 reviews so far. But the only ones that address gluten-free issues were written after my diagnosis on New Year's Eve 2014. 

Blessings. 

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Thanks all for the tips! I don't know why it makes me so nervous to talk to the staff. I'm sure I'll get used to it at some point.

I'm not sure where we'll be in St. Louis. I'm going in a big group - my theatre has a show there. So the whole weekend will be fly by the seat of our pants, which makes it really difficult to plan. Hence, the stress.

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Thanks all for the tips! I don't know why it makes me so nervous to talk to the staff. I'm sure I'll get used to it at some point.

I'm not sure where we'll be in St. Louis. I'm going in a big group - my theatre has a show there. So the whole weekend will be fly by the seat of our pants, which makes it really difficult to plan. Hence, the stress.

Just got back from St. Louis.  Three more recommendations.  LoRussos and Guidos, both on the Hill (the Italian part of town) have plenty of gluten free options, and I had no issues at all.  And the folks there were happy to go over gluten-free issues with me.  Also, Ted Drewes, the local frozen custard legend, has plenty of gluten-free options as well.  I think you will be fine.  Safe travels.

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Thanks Jay! I think the fact that I won't have my car is what's making me worried. We're all driving down in a van together. So I have to hope the group will be open to going to these gluten-friendly restaurants. But I'm not super close with them yet, so I'm not sure how it'll go. I guess I'll just pack what I can, and if I spend one weekend hungry, it's not going to be the end of the world. :)

 

Thanks!

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I am a professional engineer with a travel schedule that has me on about 100 airplanes a year.  5 years ago I was diagnosed after some severe Celiac symptoms, notably my body could no longer absorb iron and other critical vitamins.

After about four years gluten free, I began to get severe acute reactions to gluten ingestion, even in the tiny amounts you can get from contaminated serving utensils.   A few hours after a meal, I get severe stomach pain, followed by 2-3 hours of vomiting.  Within 6 or so hours, all symptoms dissipate to nothing, except for the affects of the vomiting.  

Obviously my travel makes eating not just a challenge, but in many respects a "crap shoot" that I am inevitably going to lose.  I have developed a few well learned tips that can help anyone in this situation:

1 - I have a prescription for Zofran, a medication that is given for severe nausea that you typically get with stomach flue or chemotherapy.  I have the disintegrating type that is absorbed under the tongue, so you can take it even if you are vomiting.  At the onset of the unmistakable stomach ache symptoms I take one.  I still suffer all the other symptoms, but without the vomiting, which leaves me sore for days.  Get some of this Zofran, or its generic equivalent, from your doctor.  Keep it with you in your purse, brief case, or as in my case, your computer bag. 

2 - Most restaurants are at least slightly knowledgeable about gluten.  However, when you are in a job where you are entertaining customers as I am, you do not usually get to pick where to get lunch or dinner.  Do the best you can in those situations.  Don't feel bad about asking questions.  If there are no good choices, eat a salad with oil and vinegar dressing.  Snack later, there are lots of things you can buy to get by, and even the ones that can't be considered healthy are better than throwing up in a hotel room.

3 - Don't even go into a bar-b-que restaurant.  Most, even the national chains such as Famous Dave's. don't even try to accommodate. 

4 - There are national restaurant chains that have good, if limited gluten free selections,  A few I frequent:

  • Chipotle - The only thing in the restaurant that is not gluten free are the flour tortillas.  Be sure to ask the server to change their gloves to a fresh set before they start.  Some Chipotles will have a single server prepare your meal from start to finish.
  • Applebees - Yes I know some think this is a special night out for "Ricky Bobby" and the family, but the gluten free stuff is very good, and I have never had a problem with the food.
  • Texas Road House
  • Outback
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Bonefish Grill - (The gluten free Brownie is incredible.)
  • Carabas

Just remember to ask a lot of questions, and even educate the staff if need be.  Most good restaurants are willing to grill a steak for you with just salt and pepper.  It is always good to talk with the Chef directly in a nice restaurant.  They actually seem to enjoy it.

 

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Wouldn't it be enough to just say that you have the disease?

If your friends know about it they won't find it strange that you ask or say something about the food.

I'd compare it with being allergic to mil or something. 

Don't be scared to ask. It's better to ask then to be sick afterwords, that'll be more difficult.

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