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atheresa

Allergy or Preference? Waiter asks

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I have been to several restaurants and some have gluten free menus and some don't. sometimes I am given that wonderful notebook of anything you could possibly be allergic to .  When I ask for something from the gluten free menu, I am often asked, "allergy or preference?"  Does this seem a little personal? I am not celiac but will have a migraine, diarrhea, and 2 days of depression. This is none of their business.  My preference would be to order a real pizza and a real beer. 

I always answer allergy, but it always bothers me. What do you answer?

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It's always best to remind ourselves that nobody ever knows anything about celiac or gi until they actually get it, so we can't blame others for not being experts on it. I don't eat out much due to having celiac but when I do I simply tell them that while I would love to have regular food or a beer, I simply can't as it will make me sick, and it's not an allergy but needs to be treated the same way. No need in giving anyone much more info than that, and I never take offence...they don't know what they don't know and at least some of them ask as it helps them know if they have to be super careful or not since many folks with no issues just don't want to eat gluten and there's no need for the restaurant to be extra careful for them.  So I suggest you take it all with a grain of salt. Since you are choosing to eat out, you need to share this info with them, so not sure why it bothers you beyond the regular hassle we must live with. The alternative is to say nothing and get sick, or don't eat out.

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I have Celiac.  It is not an allergy.  But it is silly to give a waiter a long winded explanation.  All they really want to know is if the cook needs to go to extra trouble to make my food safe.  " Allergy" is a word they understand and often have a process to deal with.

 

I just say that I have a medical need to be gluten-free.  In the case of Celiac, even a small amount, like taking a piece of bread off a salad, is enough to make us sick.  If you are lucky enough to not have that much sensitivity, you can decide how to answer that question.  There are a lot of people who eat gluten-free because it helps them but a little doesn't matter.  So they can take a burger off a bun, or have a bite of a friends cake.  


 

 

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My nutritionalist told me to say allergy because some people only understand that word.  I can't quite bring myself to say it, though!  I have never been asked the preference or allergy question myself - yet .  

I haven't dared eat out for months but now I am again and what I now find myself doing is ordering and then when everyone else has put their orders in catch the member of staff before they disappear into the kitchen and just explain I am sorry to be awkward, but please can you tell the chef that if any gluten gets into the food I will be ill for days.   I think the strategy is working.


Diagnosed by blood test and endoscopy Spring 2013

Adopted a gluten-free diet in May 2013

 

BRITISH

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I am never offended by this question.  I know there are a lot of people who have gone gluten-free just to lose weight or simply believe it is healthier.   Restaurants cater to this group and often list items gluten-free that do not fit the strict definition for those who react to it.  I appreciate the fact that they recognize that some of us have to be more cautious.  Just say, "Allergy".

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I always say "allergy"  as the establishment will take extra precautions.  A lot of people eat g.f. by choice or have gluten intolerance and maybe don't have to be as careful .  It's just easier to say "allergy". 

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I am also never offended by this question.   I believe they ask this question to find out if they need to be careful with cross contamination.  So I actually like it if my waiter asks this question.

In fact, when the waiter does not ask, I volunteer the information that my daughter is allergic (she has celiac) to gluten, and to please tell the kitchen to be very careful when preparing her gluten-free meal.

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I am a server and I also have celiac disease. Although I understand that it is a sensitive question I do ask it, only because I have to. Many people just come out to eat and abide by a trendy diet - I hate it but gluten-free is a "trendy" diet now (although the trend has put more options on the shelves which is nice). Often I hear "preferrence" so I go through all the motions anyways to later watch them share a burger off their friend's place.

As a server, I can tell you that it's best to say allergy. In that case most restaurants will be much more careful with your food. If you give any ifs ands or buts the server will likely not take you seriously (I've heard my coworkers). Its infuriating, yet it is what it is. 

Edited by TheJamieJay

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At my local Five Guys, I told the counter guy that I had to avoid gluten for medical reasons. I was ordering a burger with no bun and some fries. He yelled back "Allergy Alert!" and every line cook immediately changed gloves and cleaned their work space. Will I go back? You bet I will!

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On March 15, 2016 at 5:56 AM, atheresa said:

I have been to several restaurants and some have gluten free menus and some don't. sometimes I am given that wonderful notebook of anything you could possibly be allergic to .  When I ask for something from the gluten free menu, I am often asked, "allergy or preference?"  Does this seem a little personal? I am not celiac but will have a migraine, diarrhea, and 2 days of depression. This is none of their business.  My preference would be to order a real pizza and a real beer. 

I always answer allergy, but it always bothers me. What do you answer?

I laughed out loud at the 'little notebook' comment!? It has been interesting to see how much progress has actually been made over the past 10 years that there is even a notebook to be offered or a restaurant to eat in that will accommodate our 'allergy'. 10 years ago I feared that I would never eat in a restaurant again.  But the notebook comment is spot on.  Hopefully within the next 10 years restaurants will evolve enough to offer us a menu that clearly lists the delicious and extensive offerings that they have lovingly prepared just for us...and not just an ingredient list with nutritional values that take longer to read than War and Peace.   I am grateful that there are places to go that at least make the effort.  Who knows?  Eventually there may be restaurants which will have to offer menus with GLUTEN options available!

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Since moving to Central Oregon we eat out more than in the past, mainly because we have to drive 30 minutes to get to the next "big" town and like to indulge in a lunch out. :) That said, we have found more and more places that offer a separate gluten free menu which makes it so much easier.  Even when ordering off of the g.f. menu I always state "I am ordering from the g.f. menu and this is an allergy, not a choice for me!."    I learned to do this the hard way.  We have friends who are gluten intolerant and are not at all careful.  They will order from a g.f. menu and then ask for a side of something that obviously has gluten in it.   I want to be sure the kitchen takes ME seriously!  

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I've talked to a lot of waiters about this and I think it's always a safe bet to say I have celiac and if they give you a blank stare say "allergy." I'm always pleasantly surprised by how many people in the food industry know someone or are familiar with it now.

That said I ALWAYS ask a million questions like is there anything with gluten fried in the fryer? Does the chef use a new pot of water for the gluten-free pasta? (most don't!), are the gluten containing pizzas (contamination!) made near anything else? (sometimes the salads)

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