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georgiagirl

Ordering gluten-free Without Making A Stir At A Restuarant

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I've been gluten-free for 2 weeks and am seeking a BIG improvement!

Any advice on how to order gluten-free in a restaurant without making a big stir?

I'm dreading a family birthday party next week as we are having a meal for 12 at a local restaurant. I cringe to think of everyone's reaction when I ask the wait staff for a gluten-free meal.

Any suggestions on how to handle this?

What should I do when the birthday cake is served?

I've tried explaining celiacs disease to my family, but the reaction has not been good. They think I'm exaggerating and don't take it seriously. They are annoyed as they consider their health concerns more serious than this "silly" gluten free "diet".

Please help!

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You can call ahead during non-busy times or go in and talk to them. If it's somewhere that you can reasonably expect not to get glutened (vietnamese, for example) you could just pick the more obvious gluten-free things on the menu and ask about them (can be hard if there's a language barrier).

I'd just skip the cake. Either take none, or don't eat the piece your given and quietly offer it to the nearest teenager.


"But then, in all honesty, if scientists don't play god, who will?"

- James Watson

My sources are unreliable, but their information is fascinating.

- Ashleigh Brilliant

Leap, and the net will appear.

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Don't be afraid to say what you need. Having said that, I usually try to pick something I like that is naturally gluten-free. For instance, I love steak, so I look for a steak, and ask about any marinades, seasonings. I ask them to leave off any bread and ask if it's possible to get more steamed veggies...I also ask about seasonings on the veggies. If you can have a baked pototo or something like that even better. I always ask for fruit instead of dessert. I don't order salads, so don't worry about croutons, etc. I figure that those things...steak, baked potatoes, steamed veggies are the safest for me and would have the least amount of cross-contamination (except for possibly the grill on the steak) and the least amount of hidden ingredients.

My friends and family are all very supportive fortunately, so I don't get comments or "looks" from them and usually they'll pipe up with something like "oh she can't eat anything anymore", which I don't mind and don't take offense at, and is actually quite true, lol.

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My friends and family are all very supportive fortunately, so I don't get comments or "looks" from them and usually they'll pipe up with something like "oh she can't eat anything anymore", which I don't mind and don't take offense at, and is actually quite true, lol.

I was out with a friend and after listening to my ordering diatribe for a while she just started laughing and said "My God you're a pain in the a$$!!" I said "Yep, and it's about time!"

Don't be embarrassed or feel like you are being a pain. Be polite and cheerful and firm.


"But then, in all honesty, if scientists don't play god, who will?"

- James Watson

My sources are unreliable, but their information is fascinating.

- Ashleigh Brilliant

Leap, and the net will appear.

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If you know the location, go in and ask questions, *ahead of time*. Barring that, it becomes important to know what goes into common recipes to make educated guesses at restaurants, and then ask. Sometimes, you can wander off (to "go use the bathroom") and find a manager and talk to them about your options. You may still have to discuss it at the table with a waiter/waitress, but you can still do it discreetly, at your chair.

Don't be bullied by your family into ignoring your health! IGNORE they're boorish behavior and do what's right for you.


Tiffany aka "Have I Mentioned Chocolate Lately?"

Inconclusive Blood Tests, Positive Dietary Results, No Endoscopy

G.F. - September 2003; C.F. - July 2004

Hiker, Yoga Teacher, Engineer, Painter, Be-er of Me

Bellevue, WA

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Hear hear! When you get there, take the hostess aside and ask if you can speak to the waiter or tell her your issues away from the table. Research the restaurant. Eat at home first. Bring a salad with you, and ask for a clean plate to put it on. (that's my husband's favorite) For heaven's sake, bring yourself a piece of cake :) Order a burger, ask to have it cooked on foil on the grill. My son always says "I can't have wheat and I'll get sick RIGHT HERE if I do"

If/when your family fusses, just say "I know you don't get this. That's okay. This is what I have to do to be healthy" and go on with the birthday. Some people just NEVER get it. It's not your job to argue with them! Don't let them drag the occasion around to the validity of your health. We believe you!

Also, GIG makes a credit-card with "the speech" on it for restaurants. We give it to the waiter to take to the kitchen. (Admittedly, we eat out very rarely) Usually, you can tell in the first 5 seconds if the waitstaff gets it or not. We've had managers flat out say "We can't serve you" and others let us into the kitchen to read labels!


Mom/wife to celiacs dx 12/03 and 12/04

Success is never final and failure never fatal. It's courage that counts -George Tilton

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Remember when you were a kid, and you complained about what your mother made for supper, and she said "This isn't a restaurant..."

Well, when you do go out to a restaurant, you can ask for whatever you want - that's why you go to a restaurant! :P

Just think of "When Harry Met Sally"

Sally: I'd like the chef salad, please, with the oil and vinegar on the side. And the apple pie a la mode....But I'd like the pie heated, and I don't want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side. And I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it's real. If it's out of a can, then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally: No, just the pie. But then not heated.

Seriously, I think it's a great idea to talk to a manager ahead of time - go there at a time when they aren't too busy, and tell them your diet restrictions and see if they can accomodate you. Hopefully they can give you a good idea of safe choices, and prepare the wait staff, so they know you will be asking for a specific meal. Sorry that you feel intimidated by your family's reaction. Don't. Feel confident that you are making the right choice for your long term health. Maybe some of their "more serious health concerns" could be addressed with a gluten-free diet also.

Debbie


Gluten free since July 97

corn free since Jan 98

Never diagnosed by a Doctor

Symptoms cleared on gluten-free diet

Mom and one sister are also gluten-free

One sister with type I diabetes (diagnosed at age 10)

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'Any advice on how to order gluten-free in a restaurant without making a big stir?'

First off, be grateful for the Atkins Diet that made it quite acceptable to order a burger without the bun! My personal way of dealing with this is to look at the menu and figure out what looks reasonable, then ask the server to check with the chef. This really depends though on the place. Fast food joints may not be tuned in to gluten, good restaurants will be. At last resort order a steak or burger - grilled with steamed veggies or salad (dressing on the side or oil/vinegar).

You do not have to make a major deal out of this - enjoy the company and let the meal be taken care of by the restaurant - they really do want you to be comfortable and will help you to find something appropriate unless you are in a pizza place or Italian restaurant (both I avoid).

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So far I've had mostly good experiences - hopefully yours will be the same :)

Where are you going to eat - maybe someone here has eaten there before and can help out beforehand...


Tritty (my childhood nickname....)

Age 31, Mommy of 3

Blood test positive for celiac 1/16/07

gluten-free since 1/16/07

Endoscopy 2/13/07 - small hiatal hernia, scalloped mucosa in 1st and 2nd part of duodenum, some erosion of the esophogus.

Two oldest kids - fine so far :)

My 17 mo old has eosinophilic esophogitis. Only showing milk allergy? So completely off dairy for time being to see if that is trigger...

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I look up the menu online first and try to find something that's gluten-free. Then I call the chef and ask about it. Sometimes I sneak off to the "bathroom" before the waitress comes to discuss my food in private.

Eating out is all about thinking outside the box. I sometimes don't even order off the menu. I might go in and say I want a salad with no crutons, bun or blue cheese and let them figure it out. If you order a standard salad off the menu and take things out, you usually end up with a pile of lettuce.


Gluten-Free since September 15, 2005.

Peanut-Free since July 2006.

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Thank you all for the help and support. The meal was a big success. The restaurant was amazing at accomodating my gluten-free needs.

I asked the waiter to bring me some fresh fruit for when the birthday cake was served. That really made it easier so I wasn't just watching everyone else eat and feeling deprived. I teased everyone that my fruit was really far tastier than their cake!!

My family is getting MUCH better at understanding. I understand now that they will go through phases of understanding, just like me. Right now, they are in "training mode" around Celiac Disease. By Thanksgiving, I'm sure I'll have them well-trained!!!

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That is such good news. I think sometimes the family is shocked at how much validation we get at restaurants. I have seen a HUGE improvement in restaurants gluten-free accomodations in this past year.

I love it when the chef comes out himself to talk to me. A lot of times I eat alone & the manager & the waiter are waiting on me. People are looking around - like who is she ! B)

At a restaurant near my house, I left a big tip and a great review card & the next week, I asked for the same waiter - & I think everyone in the place knew me!!! & the chef fixed me an excellent dinner with all my changes !!!

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! :P

Just think of "When Harry Met Sally"

Sally: I'd like the chef salad, please, with the oil and vinegar on the side. And the apple pie a la mode....But I'd like the pie heated, and I don't want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side. And I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it's real. If it's out of a can, then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally: No, just the pie. But then not heated.

Debbie

Heeheehee...I've been out with non-sillyaks like that. They teach us.

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Just think of "When Harry Met Sally"

Sally: I'd like the chef salad, please, with the oil and vinegar on the side. And the apple pie a la mode....But I'd like the pie heated, and I don't want the ice cream on top. I want it on the side. And I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it. If not, then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it's real. If it's out of a can, then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally: No, just the pie. But then not heated.

LOL!! My old co-workers have started to call me Sally since I was diagnosed with celiac!! We still laugh our butts off about the time my department went to Virgil's for lunch (bbq place in Times Square) and the bbq sauce wasn't gluten free which ruled out most of the menu so I ended up having 2 hotdogs w/out the bun. So I basically had 2 hotdogs rolling around on a plate, because I also couldn't have any of their sides. It was so pathetic looking. LOL!

But back to Georgiagirl's question. Don't be afraid or embarrased to ask a bizillion questions. It's your health. If people want to scoff at you, let them. The consequences aren't worth being shy.

As for the cake, I just generally politely say, "no thank you." and pass it on.


Jillian

Positive Blood test and Biopsy

Inflamed stomach lining

Gluten free since July 6, 2005

Tarrytown, NY

"Sometimes being a b$tch is all a woman has to hold onto." - Dolores Claiborne

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I pick what looks the safest on the menu (salmon, steak) then when I order I hand the waiter a small card I printed out from online (which I offer to let them keep) and say I have a food allergy and could they show this to the chef and see if what I ordered is okay. This is much easier than trying to explain the problem and the fuss/stir is minimal.

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Order a burger, ask to have it cooked on foil on the grill. My son always says "I can't have wheat and I'll get sick RIGHT HERE if I do"

Never thought of that before...cooking it in foil. I think I'm gonna steal your son's line :D I like that a lot!!

Remember when you were a kid, and you complained about what your mother made for supper, and she said "This isn't a restaurant..."

Well, when you do go out to a restaurant, you can ask for whatever you want - that's why you go to a restaurant! :P

That's what I tell my husband when he complains about me making a scene! I say, if you want to go home and make me cook for us, I will, but if we're treating ourselves, we're paying them to make us food, and we won't pay for something we don't want, so they're gonna get it right! lol

One thing I like to do when I go out is order fajitas, and bring my own corn tortillas. (I know red robin's doesn't serve corn tortillas, so that's where I usually get them). I warm my tortillas before I go, and wrap them in foil. Then I wrap them in a kitchen towel, and store them in my purse. They're usually still pretty warm :D


Sweetfudge

Born and raised in Portland, OR; Currently living in Provo, UT

Gluten-free since June 2006

Also living with Hypoglycemia since 1991

Dairy-free for good since summer 2008

Started IBS diet and probiotics at GI's recommendation - Fall 2008

Also avoiding: potatoes, beans, crucifers, popcorn, most red meat, coconut milk :(

Started eating a Paleo diet Spring 2011. Love it!

The grass is always greener where you water it.

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I've worked in a few restaurants as a waitress and I can tell you that the BEST thing to do is TALK TO A MANAGER AHEAD OF TIME. Quite frequently waitstaff is not well versed in exactly WHAT is in the dishes. "What is in the salad" can frequently lead to the response "Uh, lettuce, carrots, I think some cucumbers...." So talk to a manager. They HAVE to know the dishes in case they have to cook them! Sometimes restaurants are "up" on training their staff and sometimes not. Call ahead of time, explain your situation and ask what his/her suggestions would be.

Now that being said, the LAST thing you want to do is go in last minute and spring this on a server. They may not know the dishes and have to go get the manager. WHich SHOULD be standard protocal for food allergies anyway but that isn't always the case. It is not so big a deal with a small party but for a large party it can slow down the service to the whole table. Its not a matter of you being a pain in the butt, it is just a matter of the literal time it takes to track down a manager (those buggers can move fast), tell them to go to the table, but first he has to finish the void he's working on and the lady at table ten who's not happy with the way her steak was cooked. Then after the manager figures out what you can have, it takes time to key the order in. Which takes a while for large parties anyway.

Here is one more thing you need to do. When you talk to the manager ahead of time and decide what dishes you can choose from, tell the server ANYWAY "I have a gluten allergy and I have decided on XYZ after talking to a manager. Could you please make sure it is noted on the kitchen order that I do have a food allergy." That is just one extra layer of protection to make sure they don't put any breadcrumbs on the dish that you so carefully selected!

One more thing, about the cake. Heres what you say "Yum that looks good! But you know what, I could really go for some ice cream (or insert other dessert)! Could you bring me vanilla!?!"

Good luck! :-)

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My dh once told the waiter at Red Lobster to listen carefully to what I was going to order. My dh is kind of an intimidating man so the young waiter listened to every word I said. After I told him I have a severe gluten intolerance which means absolutely nothing with wheat, rye, oats, or barley could touch my plate at all, I ordered my meal. My dh then asked him if he wrote down what I had said and if he understood the waiter said yes. As he started to leave my dh said "Good your tip depends on it." My daughter and I chuckled about it but it turned out to be the best meal I had had in a long time. We just happened to be at the table where they were doing a survey and the manager came over to ask about our experience and my dh told him everything. We were given the managers card and told to come back anytime and ask for him and he would guarantee a great meal. He also thanked me for informing him on celiac.


jennyj

Diagnosed March 2006 celiac sprue

Severe iron deficent anemia Jan 2002

Hypoglecemia 2000

"I can do all things through Christ who strenghtens me"

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My dh once told the waiter at Red Lobster to listen carefully to what I was going to order. My dh is kind of an intimidating man so the young waiter listened to every word I said. After I told him I have a severe gluten intolerance which means absolutely nothing with wheat, rye, oats, or barley could touch my plate at all, I ordered my meal. My dh then asked him if he wrote down what I had said and if he understood the waiter said yes. As he started to leave my dh said "Good your tip depends on it." My daughter and I chuckled about it but it turned out to be the best meal I had had in a long time. We just happened to be at the table where they were doing a survey and the manager came over to ask about our experience and my dh told him everything. We were given the managers card and told to come back anytime and ask for him and he would guarantee a great meal. He also thanked me for informing him on celiac.

What did you eat at Red Lobster? I am planning on going there friday and it looks like people have horror stories from there.... but I need my crab leg fix!


Dx 3/23/07

Gluten free 3/27/07

Intolerant:

Gluten

MSG

Allergies:

Ragweed

Honeydew

Cantalope

Nickel (jewelry)

Dx'd Lymphocytic Colitis 6/16/08

I am a bad silly-yak!

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What did you eat at Red Lobster? I am planning on going there friday and it looks like people have horror stories from there.... but I need my crab leg fix!

I went to Red Lobster recently and had the best meal. I explained to my server about the gluten allergy, and she was more than accommodating. She asked questions about three separate dishes for me, and I was able to have a great meal. I didn't tell her that her tip depended on her acommodating me, but I can say she did get a great tip! I'm not sure what horror stories you've heard, but I have found that most places hear food allergy and do their best to be careful. I've never had anyone brush me off for it, and I had a server once who made my salad herself, just to make sure it was mixed separately, etc.

The restaurant thing takes practice, but It gets easier with time.

Sheryll

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I pick what looks the safest on the menu (salmon, steak) then when I order I hand the waiter a small card I printed out from online (which I offer to let them keep) and say I have a food allergy and could they show this to the chef and see if what I ordered is okay. This is much easier than trying to explain the problem and the fuss/stir is minimal.

this is what I do as well, and it has been working well. That said, I avoid chain restaurants, and try to stick to better restaurants in general. business travel forces me to dine out often.

One goofy thing is that the card that i printed that i found online doesn't mention Malt - and malt is hidden in soooooo much stuff. what's up with that?

-rg

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