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Restaurant Frustration

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I'm going out to lunch with my coworkers next week to celebrate the new licensure of one of them.

They selected a place called "Chinois", which is a Chinese-American fusion place. I checked out their menu, & really don't think anything is going to work since I'm gluten, soy, casein, & egg intolerant.

Plus, I'm just getting over being quite ill from cross contamination issues that occurred over the holidays so I'm not eager to put my health into someone else's hands quite yet. I called the manager today, & he made it quite clear that their policy is not to allow food to be brought in from outside the restaurant, because "we make everything to order, & we know about food allergies". He began to budge a little bit when I was explaining being ill recently from cross contamination, but he made a big deal out of "the staff catching wind of it at all", which he didn't want to have happen.

So I'm not sure how to proceed now. I have a meeting right up until the time we leave to go to the restaurant, & no time to eat in between. Right after the luncheon I come back to work & have to meet with clients (psychotherapy) for the rest of the day until I go home. I really wanted to just bring something into the restaurant, so I can join the staff in the festivities, & also get something to eat that I know is safe. Now it looks like that's not an option.

I could use some suggestions & ideas. I am still struggling with the mere fact that food makes me ill & I can't eat what everyone else is, so now to not even be able to bring my own food is almost too much

to deal with.

Thanks.

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I don't think any restaurant will let you bring food in if you ask. The best thing is to sneak some stuff in (energy bars in your purse for example) and not make it obvious to the restaurant staff. You can probably get steamed veggies and plain chicken from the restaurant, but if you don't want that, just stick to water and the secret stuff you have in your bag.

In terms of eating between meetings, you can always carry portable snacks in your bag to munch on while you're on your way to and from different locations.

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Guest j_mommy

I agree very few restaurants are going to let you carry in. The snacks in teh bag is a great idea though!!!

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Yup restraunts don't usually allow it. I go to a mexican restraunt with my family and one of the only things I can order is thier queso dish. The chips are not gluten free, so I bring in a brown paper grocery sack with chips in it, and then set it on the floor by my chair and eat them. Lol. I agree and say sneak it in!

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I am having a really hard time too with the situation that you are describing. It always seems to happen around lunches or dinners associated with work and I am given hardly any consideration as to where we eat. Sometimes it can really get to me when I have to be the odd one out, eating something different at family and work functions. Then when someone offers you cake and you say, Sorry I'm not able to eat that, they just look at you like one peice of cake wouldn't kill you. Perhaps it wouldn't, but it would make me wish I were dead if I ate it! Sometimes it makes me so say watching everyone else eat the things I would love to be able to have.

For me the psychological aspect of sitting there even eating my own stuff is hard. I opted out of thankigiving with my significant other's family because I knew that I was not ready for it yet!

You could sneak stuff in you purse, like someone above suggested if you felt comfortable doing that. Maybe you could give your newly licensed coworker a choice of a few places that you know it's safe for you to eat out at and the two of you can celebrate on your own. Most non celiacs just don't seem to understand what we go through when we are glutened and in your case you have other restrictions added to your "medical nutrition therapy" (that's what my nutritionist tells me to say because you get no respect using the word diet!)

Good luck with your decision:)

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Tough one. The manager may understand food intolerances, but does the rushed waiter earning $2 an hour?

I have been contaminated at many restaurants. It is hit or miss.

If you feel adventurous, I would try ordering plain, white rice, steam veggies and steamed chicken. Make it very clear that you need clean pots and pans each time, and speak with the manager.

Or, if you don't feel adventurous, sneak in your own food and order a soda if you want.

If you feel backed in a corner, tell the manager you want a signed, dated note that his food will not make you sick. Tell him your lawyer will keep it on file. Although, that might get you kicked out. ;)

I personally have a doctor's note that says I must carry food with me, but so far I have not had to use it. I have carried banana bread into restaurants before, but never a whole meal.

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For me the psychological aspect of sitting there even eating my own stuff is hard.

That's true. The difficulty of this type of thing is mostly emotional and psychological, but it gets a lot easier, you'll get used to it and soon it won't be that big of a deal :)

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Thanks everyone, for your quick replies. I probably will just bring a little snack in my purse, but it

makes me so mad to have to do that! For one thing, the only thing that will work for that is a cold sandwich or a cereal bar, & it's not like gluten-free bread is very appealing! :unsure: And, since I'm always cold anyway (I just posted on that on another topic) a cold sandwich sounds gross in the winter.

But it's not worth getting cross contaminated either, & I definitely am still feeling the effects from that happening recently.

I just think it's dumb that I can't bring in a tupperware container of homemade leftovers or something like that since I CAN'T eat there. It's not like I'm boycotting their food or just don't like it!

Thanks too for the references to how hard it is psychologically; I would think I could come to terms with it by now, but still I struggle whenever it comes to food outside of my own home. I hope I'm able to accept this soon, because sitting at a restaurant, or at a party, or at someone's home, watching others eat yummy food while I don't is a pain. And even if I do bring my own food, then I feel like I stick out like a sore thumb, because I'm "different" from everyone else.

<Sigh>, at least it's not a "terminal" illness with no treatment.

Thanks again, & keep the suggestions coming!

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Maybe you can visit the place before hand or set up a meeting. No restaurants like people talking bad about them so I suspect they may let you bring in wheat free soy sauce to use on something or they can prepare something special ahead of time with advance notice. It usually works when I travel and know where the group is headed. When I dont, I just have salad or plain rice -- not much of a meal but it beats nothing and really beats getting glutened.

good luck!

I'm going out to lunch with my coworkers next week to celebrate the new licensure of one of them.

They selected a place called "Chinois", which is a Chinese-American fusion place. I checked out their menu, & really don't think anything is going to work since I'm gluten, soy, casein, & egg intolerant.

Plus, I'm just getting over being quite ill from cross contamination issues that occurred over the holidays so I'm not eager to put my health into someone else's hands quite yet. I called the manager today, & he made it quite clear that their policy is not to allow food to be brought in from outside the restaurant, because "we make everything to order, & we know about food allergies". He began to budge a little bit when I was explaining being ill recently from cross contamination, but he made a big deal out of "the staff catching wind of it at all", which he didn't want to have happen.

So I'm not sure how to proceed now. I have a meeting right up until the time we leave to go to the restaurant, & no time to eat in between. Right after the luncheon I come back to work & have to meet with clients (psychotherapy) for the rest of the day until I go home. I really wanted to just bring something into the restaurant, so I can join the staff in the festivities, & also get something to eat that I know is safe. Now it looks like that's not an option.

I could use some suggestions & ideas. I am still struggling with the mere fact that food makes me ill & I can't eat what everyone else is, so now to not even be able to bring my own food is almost too much

to deal with.

Thanks.

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I bring meals with me to restaurants all the time. I don't ask beforehand, I just do what I want. Usually the waitress is mostly confused by why I'm not ordering anything, but never says anything about it. If she did, I'd pull a "if I can't eat this here, I'm taking all my friends with me to a different place" .

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In the resturant managers' defense, many localities have laws that prevent them from allowing you to bring in outside food. Also, if they allowed you to bring in their own food, and you got sick, you could still sue them for it because it happened at their place. In today's litigious society, I am not surprised they are hesitant to allow it.

If it were me, I would order a soda and sneak in my own portable but discreet lunch. You could also see how willing they are to prepare you a salad in a clean bowl or something like that.

Good luck, and I hope your lunch goes well.

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To kbtoyssni:

I like it!

That would be awesome to tell a restaurant that if they pulled attitude about it!

Maybe I'll try that.

Thanks.

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I guess I'm a bit more of a rebel than some. I would definitely take my entire meal in to the restaurant, and basically dare them to do something about it (in a very polite way, of course :D ).

Last summer, I was attending a birthday party for my MIL at a restaurant, and they were quite fine with me bringing in my own food because they didn't want to be responsible for making me sick. I explained that I have an auto-immune illness, and would get very sick if the food isn't completely free of gluten (and a few other major foods that I cannot tolerate, likely as a result of the celiac).

You have every right to eat with your friends without getting sick. It really is a win-win situation for all if you bring your own food.

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I bring meals with me to restaurants all the time. I don't ask beforehand, I just do what I want. Usually the waitress is mostly confused by why I'm not ordering anything, but never says anything about it. If she did, I'd pull a "if I can't eat this here, I'm taking all my friends with me to a different place" .

I'm with kbtoyssni, I just bring in my food in a place where I don't think I can eat. I make sure the food is not something that needs to be reheated. Sometimes this is a full meal or a partial meal to supplement what I am able to order off the menu. I will order a drink.

Also, in time eating different food will not bother you.

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I take my chips, salad dressing, crachers etc ALL THE TIME.

DON'T make a big deal about it just do it.

i guess i'm so lucky in CA i called and asked it they'd warm up some trader joes soup in a clean dish in microwave and they were happy to do so. MIL was horrified but..........after 2 weeks of eating out at everymeal, i didn't care what anyone thought at that point.!

Just be discreet and so sweet that suqar drips from your lips. :lol:

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I've even asked restaurants to heat things up for me! When I go to buffets I'll make myself a cheese sandwich in one of those toaster bags and ask them to heat it up so I have a grilled cheese. Not sure I'd recommend that if you're worried about getting kicked out for bringing your own food though :P I'm a restaurant's worst nightmare!

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If you feel backed in a corner, tell the manager you want a signed, dated note that his food will not make you sick. Tell him your lawyer will keep it on file. Although, that might get you kicked out. ;)

I personally have a doctor's note that says I must carry food with me, but so far I have not had to use it. I have carried banana bread into restaurants before, but never a whole meal.

have you tried that before? getting a document from the manager? i'd be suprised if they'd sign something like that.

i think a dr's note would be a good thing.

Maybe you can visit the place before hand or set up a meeting. No restaurants like people talking bad about them so I suspect they may let you bring in wheat free soy sauce to use on something or they can prepare something special ahead of time with advance notice. It usually works when I travel and know where the group is headed. When I dont, I just have salad or plain rice -- not much of a meal but it beats nothing and really beats getting glutened.

good luck!

i have heard that visiting with the chef/manager before the meal is a good thing. don't know if you'd have time to that day. maybe a call?

i guess i'm so lucky in CA i called and asked it they'd warm up some trader joes soup in a clean dish in microwave and they were happy to do so. MIL was horrified but..........after 2 weeks of eating out at everymeal, i didn't care what anyone thought at that point.!

that's hilarious!

i'm not sure what i'd do in your shoes. i convinced my office to have our christmas lunch somewhere that had a gluten-free menu after they had picked out a chinese place that couldn't even comprehend gluten-free when i called.

"do you serve anything that's gluten free?"

"free? nothing free. you pay to eat."

"no wheat. no flour."

"weeds? we have seaweed. no flowers."

".............nevermind."

see if you can find a few menus of places that serve gluten-free food, and bring all the options to your coworker.

good luck :)

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I have to agree with kbtoyssni. I tend to be that difficult person at the table. I learned that servers are terified of customers vomitting becuase they have to clean it up. So I tell the servers about our immediate reaction if there is a trace of the allergens - vomiting. I call restaurants to see if they can accomodate my gluten-free diet, but most have a harder time ensuring the Dairy allergy meals are safe. To difficult situations, I bring the main part of the meal and order what I feel comfortable with off the menu. Sometimes it is just a drink. I bring anything I need to have a decent meal into a restaurant like BBQ, gluten-free soy sauce, homemade sauces, meats to add to a salad, salad dressing, etc. I have even been known to bring a hot baked potato into a restaurant. Seeing the servers confused face as she picked up the plates was hysterical! I bring my own fully cooked meals to families homes for holiday dinners. They eventually got used to it :P

To date I have only had one restaurant manager say flat out that I am not allowed to bring cupcakes to the party. Legal reasons. When it was time for cake, I had a few candies for the kids and promises of cupcakes later. That was the best I could do. The restaurant shocked us by bringing the allergy guests beautiful plates of fresh fruits. The kids loved it. Some of the other guests were even a bit jealous :)

Also to date I have only had one restaurant manager give me such a hard time about the meal they screwed up and him expecting me to pay for it I finally explained the way it works to him. "My family and I had serious food allergies. So when we are going out to eat with friends, I pick the restaurants and I only go to safe restaurants. People with allergies are extremely brand loyal. I am in his restaurant on a regular basis and always have tables of 4 to 8 ppl. (that day it was 6 ppl). If he would rather that I not come back that is no problem to me. I'll go to one of the other restaurants in town that is welcoming and accomodating to us." BTW, this restaurant had a gluten-free menu, but they screw it up often. Just poor trianing and inconsistent product. In the end, I assured him I would take my family and friends to the other restaurants and tell everyone I knew about the terrible time I had.

My own belief is I will not let this allergy stop me from living my life. But the combined allergies do make restaurants very difficult anymore.

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"do you serve anything that's gluten free?"

"free? nothing free. you pay to eat."

"no wheat. no flour."

"weeds? we have seaweed. no flowers."

".............nevermind."

LOL! It is very difficult to eat in a chinese place because the language barrier is hard...I have found that out at many places near my house....it is very frustrating.

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I apologize if this sounds rude, but I would bring my own food in anyways. The worst that can happen is that they will ask you to leave (which in my opinion is very unlikely since your entire group will be there and they won't want to risk losing all of them as well). If you just walk in with your stuff in a bag and sit down with the rest of them and get your stuff out after the rest of your group gets their food, the staff probably won't even notice.

I know it's a little bit of a risk and could be an embarrassment, but if your office staff is sensitive to your allergies then they will completely understand and back you up 100%.

Good Luck and If I were you I wouldn't risk the cross contamination either.

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I bring meals with me to restaurants all the time. I don't ask beforehand, I just do what I want. Usually the waitress is mostly confused by why I'm not ordering anything, but never says anything about it. If she did, I'd pull a "if I can't eat this here, I'm taking all my friends with me to a different place" .

LOL I have recently thought about doing this because I have 4 children who are really missing out on that family dining out time that we used to have. When I first was diagnosed I tried to still pick things that were gluten free and call ahead and ask ingredients, but I was still getting sick all the time, so now I'm scared to death to eat any food that I don't prepare. When I was thinking about it the other day I thought that I would just take my own food in without asking and if they said anything I would say "Well you either let me bring in my own food, or my family goes somewhere else. It's not fair to punish my family and turn away their business because of my illness, and If I get sick on your food I'll have to hire a lawyer and I'd rather not do that". By the way the nearest gluten free resteraunt is an hour away from us and then they only have like 4 things on the menu 3 of which I don't like.

I absolutely love the throwing up line, and since that will happen to me within a half an hour of eating gluten I think that line just may work.

I have no idea what the food laws are in my state, but any state that has a law that says you can not bring your own food into a resteraunt needs to lobby together to get that changed. If resteraunts are not going to be held accountable for allergens being in their food, then there should be no laws that say you can't bring food in. That's discrimination as far as I'm concerned. That's telling us we can't eat there because we have allergies and that's DISCRIMINATION all the way!! Maybe they could just modify the laws in these states to include anyone who has a doctors note can bring food in.

Ok sorry for the rant I'm done now!!

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I usually order an iced tea, or a salad with no croutons,no dressing, and bring my own allergy free dressing in my purse. If I get strange looks from the waitress, I simply say I have LIFE THREATENING food allergies, and that usually does the trick. A white lie doesn't hurt once in a while.....they pay attention when you use the words life threatening. But on the other hand, that wording may lead to being asked to not eat there :lol: In that case, just have a drink.

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There are only 3 restaurants I trust NOW.

I am going to one on sat for breakfast.

When they see me they say"sterilizing your dish now............ :lol: "

They will wash my dish and the skillet they will use to cook my food.

i will ask for 3 scrambled eggs. They will toss in my applegate ham lunch meat that i cut in chunks and put into a baggie.

I take my smart balance butter in a snack baggie along with my jelly in a baggie

I take 2 slices of my gfp bread Ii made and they will put the bread in my 'toaster bags' and they will toast them.

ok that's what i do.

I DID THIS IN CAPE MAY TOO IN A RESTAURANT THAT THEY SAT AT THE TABLE AND ASKED TO GET EDUCATED ON CELIAC. i THINK BLUE EYED MANDA GOES THERE TOO. THEY TRY SO HARD TO HELP US EAT OUT.

Sure it's allot of prep but these lady friends are worth it.........they go where I can go.........they are about the only friends I have left so I enjoy this so much. All my many other friends find me too high MAINTENCE..............WELL WHO NEEDS THEM :(

GOOD LUCK.

JUDY

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I apologize if this sounds rude, but I would bring my own food in anyways. The worst that can happen is that they will ask you to leave (which in my opinion is very unlikely since your entire group will be there and they won't want to risk losing all of them as well). If you just walk in with your stuff in a bag and sit down with the rest of them and get your stuff out after the rest of your group gets their food, the staff probably won't even notice.

I know it's a little bit of a risk and could be an embarrassment, but if your office staff is sensitive to your allergies then they will completely understand and back you up 100%.

Good Luck and If I were you I wouldn't risk the cross contamination either.

I agree with you completely.

My husband has no food intolerances, but he is vegan as I am. Every so often his firm has a shareholder meeting at the big power restaurant in DC. Will they allow my husband to order, say, a plain baked potato (without the sour cream) and the broccoli (without the cheese sauce). No, they REFUSE to serve the dishes that way. So he just gets carryout and walks in. His attitude is that, if they ask him to leave, he will say no. What are they going to do, call the cops on him? No one has ever said a word to him, though.

If I'm going to an unknown restaurant, I frequently put some food in my purse. I will order what I can and then eat what I brought. No one has ever said anything to me either.

If we are ever told that the restaurant's policy is not to allow outside food, we plan to simply say it is our policy to eat meals that don't make us physically ill. But no confrontation has ever come.

My nephew's two children have food allergies. They always go to restaurants with food for them. They've never been hassled.

I think it is a good policy generally, for anything, not to ask for permission. You then empower someone to say no. People sometimes want to follow the easiest course and saying no to something different can seem much easier (and less likely to get them in trouble). But bothering someone who has gone ahead and done something is harder than just letting things be.

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    Oh yes, it could, although to be honest I never got myself so wet with sweat that it would have been a serious situation.  However, I can remember one time when I got caught in a cloudburst while going to my car in a large parking lot, though, and got soaked to the skin, and of course had to wear those soaking-wet clothes while I drove the 45 minutes it took me to get home --- I will NEVER forgot the misery and agony of that drive!  I could just barely keep the car under control, in fact.
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Water?! That's… unreasonably inconvenient. Did it happen with sweat?
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