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Green12

It's So Hard Sitting In A Restaurant Not Being Able To Eat

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Wish me luck tomorrow. I'm having dinner over at my husbands parents house. They are Italians so there is pasta, pasta and more pasta, tons of breads, cakes and cookies. I know that whatever I eat will most likely be contaminated and I don't want to bring my own food because I worry about their feelings being hurt. They are wonderful people but not knowledgable about conditions or allergies. Even if I try to explain, I don't think they will understand how serious it is. Oh well, one more hurdle.

Actually, Italy is one of the best places to go travelling with celiac disease. There are oodles of authentic Italian recipes that they can make that are normally gluten-free. Perhaps they can make polenta for you instead. Or a traditional fish stew. Or at the least, a traditional vegetable antipasta (no pasta in antipasta's... ;-) just an appetizer). Or they could use gluten free pasta for you, but that might be asking too much. :-)

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I am not good at eating out yet. The few times I have tried I get very sick. I was being as careful as possible, asking about ingreients and explaining no wheat, no dairy. Since I only eat out when I am too far from home to eat there, this means I get sick when I have a long car ride and they don't mix well. I have multiple food problems too.

I would worry about asking for a plate at Starbucks. The person who hands it to you has JUST finished serving muffins to someone else. Even if you get that person to wash their hands (not too likely in most places), what about the person who stacked the plates -- they might have done that after handling wheat foods.

It is pretty much guaranteed that if I eat outside my own home, I am going to get sick. My extended family has not made any changes and they don't plan to, so there will always be wheat and dairy in every food and on every counter top and plate. If I want to not get sick, it is something little like a Lara Bar and maybe a Coke.

It does stink. I could go to Chicago for a few days while my husband is on a business trip. I would be totally on my own during the days. I have NO IDEA what I could eat for several days. There is no fridge or microwave so I am not sure I want to go. It could easily turn out to be several days of illness in a hotel room, and not knowing if I am able to make the ride home. :blink: It comes down to do I want to make myself sick or not because I can't control food outside of my home.

Not eating when the others did was very smart even if it points out that you are not able to eat wheat or junk food anymore. I hope the rest of your trip was good.

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I could mention the idea of making gluten-free stuff, but I hate to be such a bother. Also, if I called today, it would be too short of a notice, I will mention it Sunday, ugggg, I just hate to make everyone change things just because of me. I really am glad I joined this group!

they might not consider it a bother. a friend of mine, who's vegetarian, told me once that she always hated noting that she was vegetarian going over to friend's houses for dinner, being a bother with different food. but I would feel bad if someone came over and there wasn't food for them - it's not a bother at all for me to respect someone else's diet (by choice or by need) and cook something that they can/will eat; it's a pleasure. if they enjoy cooking, they may even look at it as an exciting challenge. it's possibly they won't look at it that way - and if that's the case, your plan for eating ahead of time sounds perfect! :-)

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It does stink. I could go to Chicago for a few days while my husband is on a business trip. I would be totally on my own during the days. I have NO IDEA what I could eat for several days. There is no fridge or microwave so I am not sure I want to go. It could easily turn out to be several days of illness in a hotel room, and not knowing if I am able to make the ride home. :blink: It comes down to do I want to make myself sick or not because I can't control food outside of my home.

Hey - I was in Chicago for a week last summer with no fridge or microwave. If you're on your own it will be easier (I was with a group of people but often ventured out on my own for food purposes). I don't know where you'll be but in the middle of the city there's a great Whole Foods. I went there everyday. I brought tons of food with me (seeds, nuts, corn thins, organic food bars, alpsnak bars, trail mix, almonds etc. etc. etc.) I ate out once at PF Changs. Actually, I ate out a few other times with friends but just sat there and didn't eat. Yes everyone stared at me like I was nuts but I didn't get sick once!

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Someone mentioned cc with asking for a plate from Starbucks, I wipe the plate with a napkin just in case. I also check my email occassionally at Panera Bread and order a cup of coffee. I get a mug and wipe it out really well. I also watch who puts the lid on my coffee and how they do it when at Starbucks. A couple times I've taken my lid off and asked for a new one.

You are right, there is always a risk! All we can do is minimize it. We have 8 people living in our house, just too expensive to feed them all gluten free, so I even have a risk at home. I mostly make naturally gluten free things for dinner, but the kids make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch; They are only allowed to have their glutenous foods on the island.

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Hey - I was in Chicago for a week last summer with no fridge or microwave. If you're on your own it will be easier (I was with a group of people but often ventured out on my own for food purposes). I don't know where you'll be but in the middle of the city there's a great Whole Foods. I went there everyday. I brought tons of food with me (seeds, nuts, corn thins, organic food bars, alpsnak bars, trail mix, almonds etc. etc. etc.) I ate out once at PF Changs. Actually, I ate out a few other times with friends but just sat there and didn't eat. Yes everyone stared at me like I was nuts but I didn't get sick once!

I just checked online and it is at least 10 miles to the closest Whole Foods from the hotel DH will be at (outside of Chicago). With no car, that is a very long way. If I go more than 2 days on little snacks my blood sugar gets trashed because you end up with more sugar than protein and then I fall down. I can't do soy or dairy so choices are limited. I really need at least one small meal a day plus snacks. Almonds only go so far to replace meals. They might have a different store in the area, but I don't know.

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I can totally relate. I am one of those that doesn't trust restaurants and can't stand asking for special things. Before I found out about celiac, I seemed to almost always feel sick after eating out, especially if it was at night. I never ate at buffets.

We just had a church picnic and I didn't want to go, because I get tired of being different and it makes me not want to go. I can't stand having attention drawn to me. Plus I am thin, so people assume I am not eating because I am anorexic. There wasn't a way for me to eat before we went, so we didn't go. I never get interested in going out with friends to eat now. I miss going out and having fun with friends. I also miss not being able to "grab" something when traveling.

I too risk everyday making sandwiches for my two kids with regular bread, etc. I am finding this difficult though. I have had heartburn alot lately and think it comes from getting gluten. It is all over my kitchen. We don't eat meat, so it is very hard to make restrictions on the rest of the family. I don't know how to cook for myself yet.

THis disease has definitely changed my life. I am sad when I think about it. I try not to think about it. I actually usually try and see the positive of saving money and eating healthier by staying home. Back 50 years ago people didn't eat out anyway. I do find that if I want to have friends that I am the one that cooks and they come to my house. THat is sad too! Most people don't seem to be interested in accomadating my son and I. My hubby's grandmother has never even asked what she could make for us, so she just makes food for the rest of the family and we bring our own. I think she thinks we made it up.

SO yes, it has made my life very different and much more difficult. I don't eat meat or gluten, so it makes it hard to find something that work, especially for my son that can't eat salad at two yet.

I admire those of you that are confident in special ordering, but I think it is hard and not worth it.

Monica

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I just checked online and it is at least 10 miles to the closest Whole Foods from the hotel DH will be at (outside of Chicago). With no car, that is a very long way. If I go more than 2 days on little snacks my blood sugar gets trashed because you end up with more sugar than protein and then I fall down. I can't do soy or dairy so choices are limited. I really need at least one small meal a day plus snacks. Almonds only go so far to replace meals. They might have a different store in the area, but I don't know.

Yeah I can't do dairy either. I survived b/c I ate at least one meal everyday at Whole Foods. It's worth finding out if there's a health food store near the hotel.

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You guys are so brave! If I were the celiac in the family, I guess I'd risk it too. But my skinny little boy's health is just not worth the risk. I want to conserve the few pounds he's gained since going gluten-free. We have risked it a few times for my daughter (whose test result was inconclusive). But the last time we ventured out to a "knowledgeable" restaurant (Outback Steakhouse), the waiter was so mean! When we asked for the gluten-free menu, he brought it to us. When I ordered my daughter's dinner, I gently explained the necessity of a clean pan and utensils. He kind of rolled his eyes and said he knew the routine because he remembered serving us on a previous occasion. Then he proceded to tell us he didn't know if they could accommodate us that night because they were very busy. It was my daughter's 12th birthday, and the only thing she really wanted was "to eat out." I was so hurt by this form of rejection that I started to cry. My husband spoke to the manager, who was really embarrassed by this waiter's comments, but that really ruined my daughter's night. We strongly believe in asking nicely and tipping greatly to show our appreciation and help our cause. So I can't understand why he had been so cruel.

I guess most people just don't understand what a big deal it is and how risky it is for celiacs to eat out, because like Key, my very own sisters (who are my best friends) do not even seem to care to accommodate a special meal for my children when we are over for dinner.

So I applaud all you brave people. But I don't trust anyone with my children's health.

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key and mart,

Bless your hearts! It is difficult to cope with special diets in the first place, it's an added challenge eating out/eating away and made even worse when you don't get much support from extended family, other people in your life, or at the restaurants.

I hope you both with time can figure out more of what does work and what doesn't work for you and your families in order to make it easier and more enjoyable.

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Also, I wonder how much of what we say to the waiters, the managers and the chefs really sticks. Before we decided to "never eat out again," two different restaurant chefs said they checked labels and their response was "the ingredients did not say gluten on it." :angry: And how can you know they really use a clean pan? How many times has Burger King given you the wrong sandwich when you could eat there? Orders get mixed up, etc. I'm not trying to discourage any celiacs from eating out, it's just that I think it's crazy. Especially after seeing that job reality show on the cable reality network where some pastry chef was caught peeing into a mixing bowl by a hidden camera! :lol:

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I can't even go into a restaurant. My food allergies are so bad even inhaling the food particles in the air causes me to have asthma and hives. I feel left out when my mom and sisters all go to breakfast together. I would love to go and just sit and drink tea, or have a little fruit or something, but just being near them while eating something with dairy can kill me. So they have this bonding thing over breakfast out and I am at home. It sucks. Just be thankful you can walk into a restaurant and be there with your family.

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Juliem and Rachel--

you guys are so positive..i respect you both so much.

I haven't read everyones posts but when i got the this, julie, i had to do a cut and paste.

that you are 'difficult' when it comes to food and I don't want that judgement and energy projected on to me.

I think it's an individual thing on how one deals with this issue. I think everybody has to figure out what works best for them and what is most comfortable and most importantly not be judged for it.

I was really ok and positive for the first 7 months with some problems cropping up but in just dealing with the gluten-free was ok...just like you Julie, so greatful and happy to feeling better. Then more and more things were added that i 'hated to give up' but just did it. I think you said Julie you'd had this for 10 years. i just can't imagine still being so positive but hope i will be too.

What struck me was you saying it really hit while on a family vacation..that's what happened to me. Eating out EVERY meal for 2 weeks so rough. Don't want to do it again. Never knew where we'd be so couldn't use all the plans i usually do. We were with family members i don't know well and they rollie eyes, and sighs were really sad to 'feel'

you and rach are an inspiration.

judy in philly

ps Rachel, i have a new email address but think i wrote you about it in regular email. My 'alert' posts still aren't working.

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Well, the diet is a restriction, compared to other people who don't have the restriction. And we have to plan accordingly. If you were in a wheelchair because you wouldn't walk, would you plan a family vacation around hiking? Nope. So, in the same way, you have to say no to family vacations that don't allow you to have safe food.

It may require a bit of assertiveness, but you have to do what's right for your body, your mind, and your health.

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Well, the diet is a restriction, compared to other people who don't have the restriction. And we have to plan accordingly. If you were in a wheelchair because you wouldn't walk, would you plan a family vacation around hiking? Nope. So, in the same way, you have to say no to family vacations that don't allow you to have safe food.

I'll apologize up front, but I am feeling rather down. My brand new job that I am using my brand new degree for requires extended travel to hick towns all over the province. So from the analogy above, I shouldn't be in this kind of work. I hate gluten and I hate that I can't eat it.

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Julie,

What are your food intolerances??

If you have food cooked in a clean pan, it should be fine (assuming the food isn't complex with crazy sauces, seasonngs and such..)

I will say this -- you really have to grab a hold of those restaurants -- you need to email them or call them before, always talk to a manager and a chef, get a clean pan for all of your stuff, and do not settle for anything less.

these guys are in the hospitality business and its their job to make us happy...

I hope you get this figured out, because restaurants are one of the things that I cherish most -- I always want my Celiac sisters and brothers to have good food out again..

what you said is all true, however; this is what makes traveling for long periods so difficult. We planned Easter dinner around a chain of resturants that had gluten-free items they have on their web sites but when we got to a new one.(of course couldn't be sure what time to call ahead) i was 'refused service' as they didn't want to be 'resposible' of course i came home and wrote a note to corp headquarters and got a 'great responce' both emailed and a personal phone call ( i had posted my experience on here) from the CEO of the company and the manager who had been so great to me in my area got wind of it and invited my hubby and me into his resturant for a free dinner...so...that being said...researching 'eating out' can be taxing and exhausting but if it's good...there is nothing better to make us feel more accepted and normal. :)

judy in philly

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I'll apologize up front, but I am feeling rather down. My brand new job that I am using my brand new degree for requires extended travel to hick towns all over the province. So from the analogy above, I shouldn't be in this kind of work. I hate gluten and I hate that I can't eat it.

It doesn't mean that, necessarily. I had to travel a lot for work last year. I simply had to adapt. That meant finding hotels with kitchens and going to the grocery store and buying stuff that you know is gluten free - meat and produce. No packaged, processed, pre-made stuff. If you're going on a family vacation, and they won't take the alternative of staying at a place where you can do your own cooking and force you to eat out at some unknown place in some unknown city every day, that's not very workable, but having *some* control that allows you to plan in advance is.

Perhaps I should have elaborated more - the point was that there needs to be some flexibility and some consideration taken for the restrictions you have. It's common courtesy, really, and I'm shocked everytime I see family denying someone on here that basic courtesy. Well, maybe not shocked any more, but pretty darn disappointed. Planning, and assertiveness, are vital when other people are being (or could be) discourteous or disrespectful, no matter who they are. We shouldn't stop eating out, going on vacations, or whatnot, but we shouldn't torture ourselves by putting ourselves in a position where we know we'll be miserable for weeks either. We find a reasonable solution for the problem, instead, not letting others tell us that things that *are* important for us are unimportant.

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It doesn't mean that, necessarily. I had to travel a lot for work last year. I simply had to adapt. That meant finding hotels with kitchens and going to the grocery store and buying stuff that you know is gluten free - meat and produce. No packaged, processed, pre-made stuff. If you're going on a family vacation, and they won't take the alternative of staying at a place where you can do your own cooking and force you to eat out at some unknown place in some unknown city every day, that's not very workable, but having *some* control that allows you to plan in advance is.

I'll adapt, I'm sure. If I was travelling alone, I would actually find it easier, but I have to travel and room with two other people when I am out of town. It's just an adjustment to my new life after uni and with gluten intolerance. I shouldn't complain, I'm gettting paid to be outside for the summer and to see many parts of the province that I haven't seen yet.

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I'll adapt, I'm sure. If I was travelling alone, I would actually find it easier, but I have to travel and room with two other people when I am out of town. It's just an adjustment to my new life after uni and with gluten intolerance. I shouldn't complain, I'm gettting paid to be outside for the summer and to see many parts of the province that I haven't seen yet.

When you're with other people, you just have to be more assertive, if they're not accomodating. Unless you want to be miserable, of course. :P I've gone both routes. I've decided I'm not going to be miserable anymore, and if that means saying no, or being a bit bossier, then that's what it's going to be. Because only I can by my own best advocate.

I'm sure you'll do fine once you get the hang of it. The first couple trips were tricky for me; after that, it was old hat.

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Okay...I was paranoid to begin with but now I'm more so! I've read the thread and now my fears have been confirmed! My daughter, 9, was diagnosed in March. We've tried eating out once...maybe twice since then. She's been doing really well with it...learning to read labels on her own, etc. Eating out has been one of our biggest challenges so we haven't done it much. We got her a salad at Burger King and brought her gluten-free salad dressing...she got sick and I'm not sure what did it. Now I'm scared to eat out. I'm terrified of her feeling discouraged...and angered at the thought of possibly glutening her unknowingly. If it were myself, I'm not sure that it would be as big of a deal...but it's my daughter and I want her to enjoy life and not be discouraged...not at 9 anyway!!! Cooking at home can definitely be challenging but eating out actually scares me. My sister-in-law (who works with autistic kids who are quite often on a gluten-free diet) wants to take us out to eat on Sunday...to a chinese food/sushi restaurant...insisting that we can order something special for my daughter. I'm scared...for my daughter...but...

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Eating out isn't impossible, it just requires being aware of what's going on in the back and thinking through the process from the other person's perspective. You have to be clear about your requirements, and reasonable about your expectations.

For example: in a chinese restaurant that you're going to this weekend, but don't have time to get a native chinese speaker to write out a long explanation for you, if you find that the waitstaff and personel do not speak english, the safest choice for your daughter is to get steamed vegetables (maybe with shrimp, not chicken, in case they have it in broth) with no sauce - emphasizing absolutely no sauce or she'll get sick. steamed items are cooked differently that the sauteed/stir-fried items (they're cooked in a steamer), so take advantage of that fact to make the ordering easier. of course, there is more that you can do if you have the time to call ahead and prepare for it, or if you go during a slow time and can communicate with the staff. but it's good to plan ahead with a bare-bones approach, and knowing how to improvise on the fly with what you find when you get there.

In the case of the sushi: you need to know what goes into this stuff. Sushi is more than raw fish. The mixture that goes into the rice is gluten free, so you don't have to worry about that, but any sauce that something is marinated in (like eel) is almost guaranteed to have gluten in it. (Pickled ginger is the exception to that - it's just in vinegar and sugar.) California rolls might sound like a great idea, but if they use imitation crab meat, you need to avoid it, because that ingredient has wheat in it as a binder. Vegetable rolls, avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, and shrimp nagiri are usually good options.

Eating out is perfectly doable, but usually you'll have better luck with:

  • nicer restaurants
  • slower times of day
  • places where you know the ingredient types
  • places you can communicate with the servers/chefs

As with most things, knowledge is power.

Yes, you will still run the risk of contamination. There's no real getting around that in ANY kitchen except your own, if you completely eliminate gluten. But if you come armed with knowledge, and the willingness to work with the restaurant, you have a good chance of things going well.

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Well, the diet is a restriction, compared to other people who don't have the restriction. And we have to plan accordingly. If you were in a wheelchair because you wouldn't walk, would you plan a family vacation around hiking? Nope. So, in the same way, you have to say no to family vacations that don't allow you to have safe food.

It may require a bit of assertiveness, but you have to do what's right for your body, your mind, and your health.

This is true but the problem is other peoples conceptions. It is socially inacceptable to ask a person in a wheel chair to "get up and walk" or something like that but celiac disease isn't recognised like that.

Its also difficult because of other people who ask about dietry restrictions they impose on themselves whether that is being vegan/vegetarian or other personal reasons.

Don't get me wrong, if people don't want to eat something for whatever reason they have a perfect right ... but the problem celaics face is being classed as one of the people who "don't like XXXXX"

Its my opinion that if you order a Pizza without olives you should get one regardless of your reasons but the problem is (imagine a non celaic in the case of the pizza) they chef knows he pours a ton of olive oil into the dough anyway so when a "difficult" customer wants to have the whole pizza remade because they don't like olives he is likely to just pick them off...

The problem is the food industry treats gluten like a choice.... not a serious toxin. Hence it is treated like vegetarian or vegan options (and this is the best case usually)

I think a lot of confusion comes from people who are gluten-free by choice or vegan or Atkins etc. etc. all being lumped together. The example someone used of the waiter rolling his eyes is this sort of thing, perhaps the guy had just served a table with an Atkins dieter and another vegetarain and ... well who knows...

Like I say, I think people have every right to have stuff cooked as they want... but I think the people who are gluten-free and then say "oh and vegetarain" are confusing the food industry.

The answer is in our own hands but its not a simple choice ... to my mind it is like any other minority, that is it is full of a whole suite of people.

I happen to know a few Finnish people .... they happen to be associated with the Finnish cultural centre so I have an idea that Finns all write poetry etc. and it is of course not true .. but my experience is my experience even though I know its wrong it still prejudices me.

This is the problem WE face with the food industry... every person in the industry has stereo-types and prejudices that are being constantly being reinforced by US....

People aren't all evil and they seek to justify their prejudices .. hence if a waiter has an association between fad dieters and celaics then every thing we do that confirms that will be remembered and most of the others will not be remembered. All we can do is try and reinforce the posotive image but it takes 10 of those for every negative one.

I have a vivid memory once of being spat on and shouted at by a feminist who I held a door open for. It was just a door to a shopping mall and I would have held it open for man, woman or beast... that is the way I was brought up but I end up with some woman screaming her head off and shouting at me for being patronising and holding open a door! The point is I remember that episode, I don't remember the hundreds of feminists who were in the mall (statistically there must be loads in a mall with 20,000 people) ...

Waiters are just people like you and me and they will have prejudices like everyone else but they will remember the incidents far more than the good times. The common prejudice is that celaics are just fussy eaters and everything we do that reconfirms this will make life more difficult.

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I can't even go into a restaurant. My food allergies are so bad even inhaling the food particles in the air causes me to have asthma and hives. I feel left out when my mom and sisters all go to breakfast together. I would love to go and just sit and drink tea, or have a little fruit or something, but just being near them while eating something with dairy can kill me. So they have this bonding thing over breakfast out and I am at home. It sucks. Just be thankful you can walk into a restaurant and be there with your family.

shai76, this really breaks my heart to read this, I know exactly how you feel. I was there several years ago with the same problem. I still have a difficult time going into department stores or just stores in general because I get so sick from all the chemicals in the air from the clothing and household products like linens and etc. I rush out of there with hive breakouts.

You are right I am taking for granted the fact that at least I could sit there in the restaurant when we were out of town with my family and enjoy the togetherness time even though I wasn't able to share in the eating.

When we are in town, I am in the same boat as you, I do miss out and they do have all these bonding moments that I am not around for. But I did a small thing to change that, at least so I could have my own moments. I got really into cooking and preparing meals and I have them all over for special occasions, or for no reason at all but to just be together, and I serve all of my food. I don't know what specifically your food challenges are, but maybe you can create your own moments with your mom and sister and prepare things that are safe for you and share them, maybe once a month on a Sunday or something, it could even become a ritual.

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Hey - I was in Chicago for a week last summer with no fridge or microwave. If you're on your own it will be easier (I was with a group of people but often ventured out on my own for food purposes). I don't know where you'll be but in the middle of the city there's a great Whole Foods. I went there everyday. I brought tons of food with me (seeds, nuts, corn thins, organic food bars, alpsnak bars, trail mix, almonds etc. etc. etc.) I ate out once at PF Changs. Actually, I ate out a few other times with friends but just sat there and didn't eat. Yes everyone stared at me like I was nuts but I didn't get sick once!

I just ate at PF Changs, I hope that you knew that they have a gluten free menu. It has about 10 items on it, the food was quite. good

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shai76, this really breaks my heart to read this, I know exactly how you feel. I was there several years ago with the same problem. I still have a difficult time going into department stores or just stores in general because I get so sick from all the chemicals in the air from the clothing and household products like linens and etc. I rush out of there with hive breakouts.

You are right I am taking for granted the fact that at least I could sit there in the restaurant when we were out of town with my family and enjoy the togetherness time even though I wasn't able to share in the eating.

When we are in town, I am in the same boat as you, I do miss out and they do have all these bonding moments that I am not around for. But I did a small thing to change that, at least so I could have my own moments. I got really into cooking and preparing meals and I have them all over for special occasions, or for no reason at all but to just be together, and I serve all of my food. I don't know what specifically your food challenges are, but maybe you can create your own moments with your mom and sister and prepare things that are safe for you and share them, maybe once a month on a Sunday or something, it could even become a ritual.

Juliem, It is hard not being able to eat the things everyone else is, so I hope I didn't sound like I am trivializing your challenges as well. It's just doubly hard not being able to even go into those things, and as a person with chemical sensitivities you understand this more than most!

It just gets easy for me at times to put the whole celiacs thing on the back burner to my serious, life-threatening allergies. I often forget that it is most likely the celiacs that are the cause of these allergies. Hopefully with time on gluten free, these allergies will get better and I will be able to do those things. But I also have EE (eosinphlic esophagitis, some people call it the mother of all food allergies) so I have to be very careful about my diet. It's challenging, but I have learned to work around it. My sisters and mom went for their "breakfast out" this morning. I just met them for shopping afterwards instead of going with them. And they are really good about cleaning themselves off after and stuff.

You have some great ideas though. Maybe I should try it out. :)

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