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cultureslayer

How Do You Tell Others When Eating Out?

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Since there's not enough hours in the day, it's common to discuss projects over lunch. Since my doctor won't say: Yes, you definitely have celiac (positive IgG AGA but the rest were negative), I haven't really told anyone unless asked. So when you're eating out with someone that doesn't know you have celiac, do you warn them a few days ahead of time (so you can pick a restaurant and call to find out what your options are), before you order, or when they ask why you're just having a salad and seem militant about the no croutons part?

Sometimes I'll go riding for a day with some friends and we'll stop at some random hole in the wall restaurant when everyone gets hungry (no chance to call ahead) so that's pretty obvious. Just fill the tank bag with a back up lunch, but when I have the opportunity to call ahead I'm not sure if it's worth the effort (since some places just don't understand anyway).

Thoughts?

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For me, it usually depends on the situation.

If there's room/time to negotiate a place, I'll state it upfront, so that I can ask that we look for a thai place or a sushi place or something like that, so I can maximize my chances of finding something safe to eat. In a case like that, I'll say something like "I've got food intolerances that make eating out rather challenging, can we look for *this type* of food, as it'll make it much more likely I'll be able to find something that won't make me sick?" If they ask more detail, I'll be direct, but focused, saying "I'm gluten intolerant, so I can't have wheat, barely, rye, or oats. That particular type of cuisine tends to have dishes that don't use flour, or soy sauce (like Chinese food would), or breading, and so on. They'll likely have a rice dish or a salad or a grilled meat that I can have." Additional questions can be answered as they come up, again, directly, but in a focused manner.

If there isn't much option, and there's, say, just that one last restaurant for the next 60 miles on the stretch of freeway you're on, then I'll talk to the waitperson, asking he/she take my order last, after I've had a good chance to review the menu, and talk to them discreetly about ordering. After that, I'll usually get a few questions, and again, I answer directly, and in a focused manner - answering the question honestly, without rambling, but without embelishing. I'll get the "What happens if you eat a little bit of it?" question, and I'll answer honestly, but focusedly, "It causes an auto-immune reaction that damages my intestines, and additionally, I feel dizzy quickly, then nauseaous and bloated and gassy, and spend far too much time in the bathroom for the rest of the week." (I do generally opt to avoid the words constipation and diahhrea at the lunch table... ;-) ) I find that if I stick to answering questions openly, and politely, but without going on and on about it, they find out what they need/want to know, and I don't have to talk about it for five hours.

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When we go out to dinner with friends and even friends with their friends, I give them a choice of MY restaurants and no one has had a problem with that. If they want pizza we go to a gluten-free pizza place. If they want Chinese we go to PF Changs. Same with Italian or whatever. I control where we eat. Either they want our company or they don't. I know that sounds harsh, but I do not care to get sick. Really everyone has been great about it. And the food has always been great so no complaints in that department.

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I refuse to make my problem someone else's (a.k.a. demand that I pick the place) but it does sound like trying to pick ahead of time can't hurt.

When out on the motorcycle the whole point is to find some empty twisty roads in the middle of nowhere, so I'm just going to bring my own food rather than risk problems (drowsiness is not good at 60mph, trust me).

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I usually just make the best of the situation. If there's a restaurant close that I know is gluten-informed, I'll suggest that. If not, I just ask for a salad, but I sound like Sally on "When Harry Met Sally"! :lol: I say, I'd like a bed of greens, including spinach. Do you have hard boiled eggs? That would be nice. Do you have cucumbers? Are they marinated in anything? No? Oh, that would be nice. Do you have tomatoes? I'd like those. Do you have Bacon? Is it real or is it imitation? Imitation, oh no thanks. (or Real -- GREAT!) and on, and on . . . then when they ask me what kind of dressing, I say, Oh , I'll just use salt & pepper.

I have always been one of these -- order off the menu, pick your side dishes, don't ask for anything special. This ordering thing is a totally new experience! If I tell the waiter up front what the problem is, though, they're pretty nice. It works! :P

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All of my friends already know and are accomodating--so much so that if they bring along people I'm unfamiliar with often they'll inform their friend rather than waiting for me to do it. But for work related things, I usually don't make a big deal about things in advance. I'll make suggestions, but if we end up at an iffy place, I just explain my problem to the waiter and then I'll handle the people at the table. I try to get a read on what would be acceptable in that circumstance--if it's a professional conference where I don't know anyone, I'll usually try to answer the humorously by saying, "yeah, I've got one of the trendiest diseases around--definitely a low-carb lifestyle." If they ask what it does to me and I'm totally unfamiliar with them, I don't even want to mention GI issues, so I'll just say with a completely straight face, something totally innocuous like, "Well, Bob, my arm just spontaneously falls off, and it's usually my left one, so since you're on my left-hand side, you may want to watch out," and then they give you a look of confusion/amusement, and I've diverted their attention enough to say, "it's just unpleasant." If sarcasm doesn't seem an appropriate response to the "what does it do to you?" question, then I'll just say that it's temporarily debilitating and can have serious medical consequences for me in the long run.

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