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Washingtonmama

How do I go out to eat?!

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My adult daughter and I were both recently diagnosed with Celiac. We have a big family dinner at a local Chinese restaurant coming up. Are we stuck with plain rice, and maybe stir fried veggies? I have no idea what questions to ask, who to ask, how to be certain they didn't cross contaminate the food, or what to eat. We dont want to cancel because this is a big thing. We never get all of my kids, sons-in-law, grandaughter, my husband, his brothers and their kids and my in-laws all together. Can you give me some basics, or a link to check out? THANK YOU!

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Chinese food is very difficult for celiacs.   Unless we are going to PF Chang's,  when I had to go to a Chinese restaurant with family, I would bring a home made gluten-free meal for my celiac daughter.

I usually buy these frozen gluten-free potstickers, and cook them at home and bring them to the Chinese restaurant for my daughter.

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Lots of these places are Buffet style...and from what I understand it is ALL cross contaminated.  If where you are going is not and you order off a menu I might be less concerned but you really do still run the risk.

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I agree.  We eat only at PF Changs after talking to the manager.  The risk for cross contamination is great.  I do not think that Celiac disease is well known in Chinese cultures.  Another option would be to check the restaurant using the website, "Find Me Gluten Free".  Look for celiac votes!  

I would bring food and order a drink.  The goal is to enjoy the company!  

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Washingtonmama,

I agree with gluten-free-Cheetah Cub if you talk to the manager they don't mind you bringing things in for yourself (usually) since you paid for the buffet already.

But I find I gravitate to things I know I can eat safely and eat to my heart content.  It might be crabmeat and cheese or mushrooms and cheese or baked fish or ham or jello or mandarian orange slices and get a whole plate of the one or two things I know I can eat.

I do the same thing with my prediabetes I celebrate that I can eat as many omelets (when I go to a breakfast bar as an example) as I like . . . I just have to eat sweet potates instead of fries (which often are cooked in a frier that has been shared with breaded things) or have bacon as my side with my eggs or have sauteed mushrooms as my side from the bar instead of hashbrowns.

And if I eat omelet's (as an example) they are prepared fresh for me.

You could bring your own soy sauce but you still might have cross contamination issues.

If you stick to tried and true naturally gluten free things like baked fish or ham etc and two scoops of ice cream for desert you should be able to manage to get out with much trouble.

Or enjoy some sushi.

Note not all sushi is gluten free but here is a great article on celiac.com that is a "cheat sheet" on how to make sure you can choose to make sure it is gluten free sushi or how to decode things in a chinese restaurant to avoid hidden gluten.

https://www.celiac.com/articles/23449/1/How-to-Safely-Order-Gluten-Free-Sushi/Page1.html

I know I learned things from reading it because as a rule I stick to naturally gluten free things of a more western nature like ham or mushrooms but I find what I can eat that and eat that instead in short but the celiac.com article is a great overview of how to cope when you must eat at chinese buffet or sushi and not sure how to do it without getting glutenized.

Just my two cents worth.

posterboy,

 

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Fix your own stir fry and rice gluten-free at the house with gluten-free noodles, and sauces etc. Bring it in  containers, explain to the manager you and your daughter are there for a family event and have severe food allergies and had to special make your own and bring it. Call about this before hand, I do this normally when eating out and only get a drink and a side if I trust them.

Alternatives are if they have a gluten-free menu or something they say might be gluten-free get it and bring a testing kit like EZ Gluten, or a Nima and test your foods before eating.

Welcome to the forums by the way we have a newbie thread here https://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/topic/91878-newbie-info-101/

Now we suggest not eating out and only eating whole foods minus Dairy, oats for the first few months to jump start your healing and avoid CC issues.

I have a list of food alternatives, places to get staples, and how to order from local stores with UPC codes if you do not wish to use the online shopping options in the following link to make the transition easier.

https://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/topic/117090-gluten-free-food-alternatives-list/

 

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You guys are awesome!! Thank you for your help. This is a local family owned place. I think I will just do like you all suggested and just bring my own food. Its my first time doing this, but if I act like its not a big deal, everyone will hopefully take a cue from me and will not freak out about it and ask me a million questions. Ill have to try PF Changs. Hopefully, they don't use MSG because that horrid stuff gives me equally horrid migraines. Thanks again everyone, you are making this switch easier. 

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I just realized someone said there is a test kit to see if your food has gluten. That's awesome!

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The tester seems to have some issues.  Not sure I wouldn't trust it yet.

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  • Bringing your own food isn't always an option a place can give you.  In some counties, The health department does not allow it.    

If it is a small family owned place, perhaps you could talk to them ahead of time?  Or eat first, and just have a drink?  Or smuggle in something small like a protein bar?  

You might be surprised to learn that you are not the first person to ask about gluten-free food.

 

your name suggests you might be in Washington state or Washington, D.C.? Both have a large amount of gluten-free people and restaurants.  You might be able to talk to the manager before hand and settle on something they can make for you 

Edited by kareng

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Usually soy sauce is made with gluten in it.   For a buffet you would have to make sure they make all the food with gluten-free soy sauce, which is unlikely.  And an awful lot of Chinese food has soy sauce in it.

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12 hours ago, Washingtonmama said:

I just realized someone said there is a test kit to see if your food has gluten. That's awesome!

The tester works very well but it can not test soy sauce.  It doesn't work for a few things that are fermented. Unless you have a bottle labeled gluten free Tamari, then it will contain gluten.   http://www.thekitchn.com/the-difference-between-tamari-and-soy-sauce-ingredient-intelligence-174139

Chinese food places are far more difficult to eat at for Celiac's.  They would have to use dedicated woks and gluten-free tamari sauce.  Their sauces are usually safe, without the use of soy, because they use corn starch to thicken them but its all moot if they use a contaminated wok.  As others have stated, this is a time to bring your own food. I hope you have a good time! 

 

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13 hours ago, kareng said:

The tester seems to have some issues.  Not sure I wouldn't trust it yet.

Darn it!

 

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Shortly after dx I went to a local Chinese place. The owner was there. I sat down & talked with her at great length explaining the food issue & cross contamination. She said there was only 1 thing she would allow me to eat there & that was steamed chicken & veggies. No sprouts were to be in the recipe, not b/c she thought the sprouts would be a bad thing but the sprouts just are not used in that dish. I ate & felt fine but it was too much food for me so I got a doggie bag with the remainder. I personally put the food into the container. At home later, for dinner, I decided to have the rest of it. I dumped it out on a plate to nuke it & low & behold guess what I found? A sprout. What's the big deal with a sprout? It means clearly that the chef, whom I saw & heard the owner give explicit instructions to, did NOT prep my food on a clean surface. If he had, there would be no sprout in there.

That was enough to teach me that there is careful & then there is careful and that eating out is like playing Russian Roulette.

You have to be ultra careful and some have found perfect places to eat out, generally high end places and at the slower hours. Certainly during the busiest hours is never a good idea. I would NEVER eat from a buffet EVER!!!! 

I never ate food from our Chinese place again. My hubs had not yet been dx'd and we did go there for him to eat. I called ahead & asked if it would be okay for me to bring my own food and I would purchase a drink there. They had zero problem with that so I brought my own eats & got a glass of wine from them.

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Squirmingitch, I am beginning to agree that eating out is playing Russian Roulette. Its the most upsetting thing about the diagnosis. I LOVE eating out. We don't do it very often, its expensive so its a treat when we do. I love not having to cook, trying new dishes. How upsetting the chef you had wasn't careful and didn't follow instructions. There are people who have severe alkdrives, people who could die even. At least the restuarant owner was wobderful, too bad her staff wasn't. ?

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11 hours ago, Washingtonmama said:

Squirmingitch, I am beginning to agree that eating out is playing Russian Roulette. Its the most upsetting thing about the diagnosis. I LOVE eating out. We don't do it very often, its expensive so its a treat when we do. I love not having to cook, trying new dishes. How upsetting the chef you had wasn't careful and didn't follow instructions. There are people who have severe alkdrives, people who could die even. At least the restuarant owner was wobderful, too bad her staff wasn't. ?

You can eat out successfully but it depends on many things.  Squirmy gave you some good advice but if you live in an area with high knowledge, it can be done quite successfully.  I only go to high end places except for some that are either owned by Celiac's or have them in the family.  They always seem to get it right.  I have 2 places that are my favorites and both are owned by people with Celiac.  They have done a tremendous job and I never , ever get sick.  I do not dine out that much but do dine out more often when I vacation.  I vacation in places with high knowledge.....Ireland is phenomenal. 

It's best to wait until some healing has recurred, like 6 months.  I can eat out a little more often now as I have been gluten-free for 12 years and have healed well.  Use the http://www.findmeglutenfree.com/ website to see what is available in your area, for when you can venture out again. You still have to be very careful but no one with Celiac should think they can never dine out.  I am very sensitive also.

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On 4/2/2017 at 5:50 PM, Posterboy said:

But I find I gravitate to things I know I can eat safely and eat to my heart content.  It might be crabmeat and cheese or mushrooms and cheese or baked fish or ham or jello or mandarian orange slices and get a whole plate of the one or two things I know I can eat.

I do the same thing with my prediabetes I celebrate that I can eat as many omelets (when I go to a breakfast bar as an example) as I like . . . I just have to eat sweet potates instead of fries (which often are cooked in a frier that has been shared with breaded things) or have bacon as my side with my eggs or have sauteed mushrooms as my side from the bar instead of hashbrowns.

And if I eat omelet's (as an example) they are prepared fresh for me.

 

imitation crabmeat has wheat.  check to make sure your omelette isn't thickened with pancake batter or flour (some restaurants do this)

i would not eat at a chinese buffet (or any buffet lolz) in your case, i would make everybody go to pf changs or eat ahead of time and enjoy a glass of wine with pleasant company at the restaurant :)

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Only thing that I feel is safe is some sushi at Chinese buffets I don't go to those places, but if I feel forced to because of a family event that's what I would eat. 

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What I do is just eat ahead of time, then order cocktails at dinner and just throw myself into conversation. After all, the food is nice, but it's being with the people that is really the best part. I just make a joke that I'm drinking booze for dinner. 1-2 drinks loosens me up, calms my anxiety/nerves/frustration of not being able to indulge, and it helps the convo flow. 

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