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phakephur

Eating Out In General

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I basically stopped eating out when I cut the gluten out of my diet. I haven't been in a restaurant in about 2 and a half years. Frankly, having celiac embarrasses me. A lot. I don't want to hold up the ordering process by talking to multiple people, I don't want to disclose personal medical information to strangers, and I am not lugging my own butter and condiments into a restaurant. And I especially don't want to jump through these hoops and STILL run the risk of getting sick afterward.

If I can't just walk in and order something like everybody else why bother. I know that places like Outback and PF Changs have gluten-free menus, but they generally include footnotes about special instructions you have to give the wait staff, etc.

Eating out was something I used to regard as a casual, spontaneous, and relaxing experience. With a food intolerance, there's just nothing casual or spontaneous about it. I don't miss the food, but I sometimes miss the ritual.

I'd like to know how those of you who eat out regularly feel about the experience. Do you dread it before you go? Are you comfortable going through the litany with the chef or whoever? Do you feel anxiety while you're eating? And do you spend the next few hours waiting for symptoms to hit? Lastly, is it possible that the people who do eat out "successfully" might just be low reactors?

Cheers

Sarah

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Guest gfinnebraska

Sarah, I feel just like you. I HATE eating out. When I have to do it, I dread it. I hate vacations, knowing I will be eating out!! <_< You are not alone. I try talking to the chef, wait staff, take my own condiments, etc.... usually still get sick. I was in Hawaii for a week over Christmas and came home sick and majorly glutened. :( I don't have any answers for you, but just wanted you to know that you are not alone in your feelings. Hopefully someone else will write in with some advice we can both use! For now I just avoid eating out. I go along, but just order a coke. I like the social situation, but don't feel the need to eat.

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Guest Viola

Hi Sarah;

I'm a very high reactor, and I eat out probably 3 or 4 times a month. I've been gluten free for 16 years, so have gotten over most of the embarrassing parts I think. We have about three restaurants in the area that we have taken the time to educate. I carry a card in my purse and except for one of the restaurants, always send back to the kitchen. One is run by a friend and just always fixes me a safe meal. Yes ... there is a chance of getting ill, but we have that chance right here at home as I am the only one gluten free. We also have that chance buying gluten free products that are made in a place that isn't totally gluten free.

Life is full of risks, that doesn't mean that we should hide in our homes and never go out. I do all the restaurant meetings, and parties with our Kennel Club. They let me choose the restaurant, and I also go in early and talk to the kitchen supervisor ahead of time. So far I've had no problems with those :P

We have had to walk out of a few restaurants while travelling when their menu didn't lend itself to changing. That's always a touch embarrasing, but what the hell, it's my health and their loss of costomers. So ... perhaps it's them that should be embarrased :lol:

You likely won't relax for the first few times, but like most things, it gets easier with practice! I do hope you try it sometime. We aren't something to be hidden away because we have Celiac Disease. :rolleyes:

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I eat out several times a month and react to very small amounts of most foods I am intolant to...we avoid busy times - both because we hate the crouds and I am more concerned with contaminiation. I have no problem ordering with all my restrictions, I have my resturaunts (sp) that I have called and cleared and I still enjoy eating out. I have really only gotten sick 2-3 times and once I know was my fault for not being clear enough.

I explain to the wait staff that "I am the problem child" (even though I am an adult), explain that I have a lot of food issues, and give VERY detailed instructions on my meal. I have run into some really great waiters who work extra hard and I am remembered so it is easier each time we go...I have yet to meet a waiter or manager that gave me a problem - partly because I have called in advance and then we frequent those places.

Vacation scares me though - we are going to a new place, where I have not cleared the food places, etc. We plan on bringing our camp stove and a cooler to cook at least half our meals.

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Hi ladies, thanks for the replies.

I live alone so I don't have the issues with contamination at home since I put the pets on a gluten-free diet. After 11 years of GI hell, I guard my health jealously. But it's not like I don't ever go anywhere or do anything, I just don't go to restaurants. I'm not willing to do the things required to eat in a restaurant(call ahead, quiz the chef, etc). In order to eliminate the dread and uncertainty, I just made a clean break from it. It's not the right choice for everybody, and I'm sure it's easier to do if you don't have a family.

Among the things I don't miss about eating out are the noise, the cologne, and the empty water glass.

I haven't been on vacation in years, mainly due to multiple chemical sensitivity I developed 5 years ago. But that's improved vastly since going gluten-free, so now I can shop for shoes and go to the symphony just like everybody else. I'm going to the Rolex in KY in a couple weeks and really looking forward to it.

Sarah

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Sarah,

I really dislike eating out, as well. I find it very stressful and not enjoyable in the slightest. Since being diagnosed, I've only had one enjoyable experience eating out, which was when I went to Risotteria (in New York City). Almost their entire menu is gluten-free: all the desserts are, they have gluten-free pizza which is terrific, they're famous for their risotto (gluten-free), they even have gluten-free beer, Bard's Beer (I'm too young to drink, not that I'd want to, but a lot of adult celiacs like that). I had a great time eating there once since I knew everything was gluten-free and it tasted good. At the other restaurants, I keep wondering if I'm going to get sick, I get so bored with my plain food, (usually a baked potato and a hamburger or piece of steak with no seasonings or anything on it) and I feel alienated, different, and left out........

Just wanted to mention my good experience because if you ever come to NY, do visit there. There are also a few more gluten-free menu-restaurants springing up, including one in a few weeks called Sambucca, which will add a gluten-free menu w/ 22 pasta dishes, a kid's menu, homemade bread, brownies, etc. NY is a good place for celiacs :D

Anyway, my point is, I can empathize with you on not wanting to eat out (at a restaurant w/o a gluten-free menu) unless I really have to...

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Guest barbara3675

Although I really don't eat out that often, I do have a few places that I eat and they have things on the menu, like chef's salad or I can order a burger without the bun (on a charcoal grill). To me it is about the people you are with and not about the food. I live in remote northern Wisconsin and so we don't have many chain restaurants here. Interesting thing is that I own a restaurant, but I just have hestitated to create a gluten-free menu yet. My health food store is urging me to do that as they said they would send me lots of business.....I am considering it. When I go to the city, then there are more choices. A steak, salad and baked potatoe in most restaurants really seems pretty safe to me. You can take along your salad dressing--I even have gluten-free croutons I take along. My granddaughter is six and her parents take her out to eat all the time---she had celiac disease. When she gets tested on her annual checkups, she comes up 99% gluten-free....I am very proud of them for being so thorough. She is so smart that now she makes her own choices. I think a person needs to get out there and live and not let celiac disease hold you back. We should be happy that we don't have anything deadly and that we are going to live out our lives probably healthier than some others that don't watch what they eat.

Barbara

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I will not eat out if I don't have to. I don't really enjoy it now.I don't even like to go to certain relatives houses because some just don't get it and then I feel so awkward.

I would rather cook for people at my own house so I know exactly what is going into my food and don't have to feel awkward.

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I only feel good about eating out at Celiac friendly places and at big support group meetings. It took me ahwle though.

Good luck!

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I find eating out at some restaurants stressful, but not PF Chang's. I just ask for the gluten free menu, and point to the item I want, on the gluten-free menu, when the server takes our order.

Then again, I don't care about anyone knowing that I can't digest gluten - pretty much everyone who knows me knows ;-) - so if that makes you uncomfortable, that's going to make the restaurant experience tricky.

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I have to travel for work fairly often and can't say I have had too many bad experiences. Denny's has always been a good place. I usually get their big salads and they always substitute something else for the bread that comes with it. Plus they're cheap and the boss doesn't complain too much about it :lol: . TGIFridays has an Atkins menu, the foods not that great but I've never had any problems. When the meal is going on the company credit card I'm not going to complain :D . You just have to be vigilant and I have not found it to be that big of a deal.

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at this point for me, having had celiac for awhile, i still find out eating out to be the biggest challenge. it's especially embarassing in front of people i've just met. i rarely eat out (hey it saves money, so no great loss without some small gain!) but i definitely feel most comfortable at a place like outback or pf chang's. i feel bad cos i used to prefer mom&pop type places instead of chains but now chains are much easier.

expensive restaurants are ok and i actually, surprisingly had very good luck at 2 functions (2 nights in a row so if i'd gotten gluten at both i would've felt it!) one was a formal dinner for a competition at school, and the other a school dance and at both i had very good gluten-free meals that i ordered a head of time. at both places the chefs were more than helpful and at the formal dinner the chef even came out personally to see me even though there were about 50 people there.

that said, the one place i feel 100% comfortable eating out is at disneyworld. not only do i get gluten-free food, but i also get interesting, different food than i normally eat.

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Eating out makes me very anxious. I've had a lot of unsympathetic waiters who don't take the time to listen to any special instructions about how my food needs to be prepared. I almost always send something back, even at places that have gluten-free menus, such as Outback and Carrabba's (I got horribly sick after going to Carrabba's once). It's a real shame because going out to eat used to be a treat for my family and I, and it's made vacations pretty stressful as well.

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Guest Viola

I realize that eating out is neither as much fun or relaxing as it used to be. Having said that ... it used to be pretty hard before as well, as I was always heading to the bathroom during every meal and that was pretty embarrasing. At least I know what was causing that and now can prevent it by ordering a safe meal. :)

But what I really started out to say in this post was ... if none of us ever go out and educate these restaurants, will we ever be able to live a 'normal' social life again? Not just people my age, but what about the young Celiacs coming up? We are constantly talking about getting the doctors and medical staff educated, but so do we need to educate the food services. It does take time Yes! It takes patience explaining the importance of safe meals. But ... we need to travel, we need to eat, and we are a big part of the population and have a 'right' to be treated properly.

They are never going to change if they don't know how many of us are out here, and how important it is.

Just my thoughts :rolleyes:

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I haven't been out to eat in almost two years. Sometimes I miss it, but the few times I tried right after being diagnosed turned out to be very bad experiences. Yes, it's great to educate the restaraunt staff, but in my personal opinion, a quick 2 minute briefing of the wait staff is not enough time to fully comprehend the ins and outs of this disease. It's taken me almost 3 years to get to the point where I feel like I can finally cook for myself, and I won't expect or trust someone to do this other than my loved ones that truly understand how sensitive I am. I've gone out to eat with family since and brought my own food-they appreciate it more when I am healthy and in a good mood than eating scary restaraunt food and feeling like utter crap.

Good point on saving money too-sometimes bringing your own food is a pain, but restaraunt prices can be outrageous!

Peace-

Nadia

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But what I really started out to say in this post was ... if none of us ever go out and educate these restaurants, will we ever be able to live a 'normal' social life again?

I totally agree with this. We need to get out there so that in the future it gets easier and easier to eat out. Obviously places like the Outback and PF Changs have caught on and others will too if we keep plugging away. I went out to eat last week at a steakhouse (not the Outback) up here in Washington State. I called ahead of time and the manager had never heard of Celiac disease and didn't even know what gluten was. I explained it a little and the non obvious places it can be found and she gave suggestions about what to eat. When I got there she even checked my order and advised me of things that she saw as possible problems.

I find that most people I describe this disease too find it very interesting and want to learn more. I'm not embarassed about it all (except I don't mention the diarrhea involved :blink: ) I mean, what control do we have over getting this? There's no reason to be ashamed of it.

I was thinking it may be a good idea to send a letter of thanks to every restaurant I have a good experience at and include some info about the disease, so they can better help people in the future. :D

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Guest ajlauer
I was thinking it may be a good idea to send a letter of thanks to every restaurant I have a good experience at and include some info about the disease, so they can better help people in the future. :D

That's is an incredible idea!!! Everybody loves to be appreciated. A thank you letter is wonderful! And then, they can research celiac disease on their own time. Funny thought but... you may end up sending the letter to someone that *has* celiac disease, but doesn't know it! You could end up making someone's life easier by "showing them the way" so to speak! :)

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I basically stopped eating out when I cut the gluten out of my diet.  I haven't been in a restaurant in about 2 and a half years.  Frankly, having celiac embarrasses me.  A lot.  I don't want to hold up the ordering process by talking to multiple people, I don't want to disclose personal medical information to strangers, and I am not lugging my own butter and condiments into a restaurant.  And I especially don't want to jump through these hoops and STILL run the risk of getting sick afterward.

If I can't just walk in and order something like everybody else why bother.  I know that places like Outback and PF Changs have gluten-free menus, but they generally include footnotes about special instructions you have to give the wait staff, etc. 

Eating out was something I used to regard as a casual, spontaneous, and relaxing experience.  With a food intolerance, there's just nothing casual or spontaneous about it.  I don't miss the food, but I sometimes miss the ritual. 

I'd like to know how those of you who eat out regularly feel about the experience.  Do you dread it before you go? Are you comfortable going through the litany with the chef or whoever?  Do you feel anxiety while you're eating?  And do you spend the next few hours waiting for symptoms to hit?  Lastly, is it possible that the people who do eat out "successfully" might just be low reactors?

Cheers

Sarah

I am a little embarraed espically when me and my boyfriend go out to eat with our friends. But he really makes the experience wonderful, he makes the waitress understand and he is constatnly making sure that I am okay and that nothing hurts. I have also found places that I am comfortable with and I know things that I can order that wont hurt me.

The cold stone creamry which is an ice cream parlor, we were invited to go there one night with our friends and they have a list on their website which made me really excited, but when i got there i got really nervous and was getting upset because I didnt want to have to tell them to clean everything before they made mine. So my wonderful boyfrined ordered mine and he made them clean everything and they really didnt mind, but I dont think that they really understood why they had to, and I orderd his.

If I have any advice for anyone, it I extremely eaiser to eat out if you have someone with you that can help with the ordering and with the explaining your needs. My boyfrined is really supportive of me and really eases my tension when we go out!

Just because you have celiac doesnt mean that you cant go out to eat. I think that everyone should be able to have the pleasures of going out to eat everyonce in a while. But for your first time, maybe you should go to a reastaurant that is a dedicated gluten-free place. I am pretty confident when I go to Outback, becaue the wait staff is educated on the diease and that also makes you feel so much more comfortable.

The one thing that I also encounter is that when I eat somthing that I am not supposed to I get a reaction with in five minutes. So I guess that is a good thing, because then I dont end up eating the entire thing.

I really hope that this helped and gives you enough confidence to go out to eat. If you say which area you live in maybe we could help with the research and help you find a nice place to try out. But I can def. relate, because I do get nervous, but eating at a gluten-free restaurant, helps out a lot and also eating with someone else that has just as much knowledge as you!

I wish you the best of luck and if you need any help just le me know! :D

Amanda

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@ Shirley, you're so right. That's what I think, too. We try to spread out the "celiac"-word for friends and family. But it's important to raise awareness in restaurants, too.

@ Amanda: That's definitely true, that it gets easier, when you have somebody with you, that can help. I myself am a very shy person and I get ashamed very fast, too. At the weekend we were in Rhode Island with our sports travel team and on our 7 hour trip back home we stopped at MickeyD's. I ordered a small fries and a hot fudge sundae. And the lady behind the counter, who just packed a burger for the customer before me made my order. She actually touched the burger with her hands instead of these tweezer-tongs (whatever they are called in english...). She then took the little baggy with the fries and put it in a bigger carry-out bag for the car. Some fries got caught at the edge of the bag and instead of shaking the bag, so that they fall into the bag, she took her hand and squeezed them into the bag. I didn't know what to say and just stared at her, but Kathy, my fellow celiac team mate told her to make me a new french fries bag and why. That was so nice of her.

Stef

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Do we really want to isolate our selves from the food industry because we have food intolerances? NO. I must say that I have mastered the art because of having it for so long, but still it isn't that hard. If you need to call ahead, and talk to the cook who is going to be there that night, tell him/her what your problem is, and ask them if they could make you somehing special before, and then tell them that you can just order what you want, but the chef will already know that it is a special meal, especially if uou go and call during non-busy hours, they are much more likely to go along with what you want, also you are a paying cousemer, do they really want to turn you down? Of course not, they want to make all of thier coustermers happy, because then you will come back.

If these people who you are going out with are really your friends, they should care enough about you to understand that you need to order something different, or else you will get sick. If they are not friends, then why are you going out with them? Even if they are you collegues, they should understand enough about you that you will get violently sick if you eat this at all, and they should be nice enough to at least let you take a little longer on ordering because it is a health reason.

I am the most sensitive celiac, and I go out to eat all the time, I love it. Just find a celiac card that suits your needs, and then talk to them, they should be able to help, and then when you find a place that is really helpful, keep going back, and then you know that that is your safe place to dine out whenever you want to.

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So what do you guys think is THE safest restaurant food you can order? I know there isn't one but if you could pick anything that would be the least likely item to be cross contaminated, what would it be???

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But if you ask for plain meat you also have to make sure they don't put it on the same grill, right? Maybe ask them to cook it on a piece of foil or move it to a side of the grill that doesn't get used?

Also, do you think their butter and sour cream are OK?

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Guest nini

I have to say that prior to being dx with celiac, my family and I went out to eat a lot. But I hated the fact that I would be miserable before the meal ended and would spend most of the time in the bathroom.

That being said, now 2 years into this dietary change, I'm starting to get used to eating out again. At first I was very nervous about eating anywhere other than home, including the houses of friends and family.

I find that Mexican Restaurants are usually very helpful, Especially if it's one where they make everything from scratch. I have a restaurant card printed in spanish that the wait staff can take back to the kitchen and verify that what I want to order is safe, Just the other night I was able to order a tamale (one of my comfort foods) and they just suggested ordering it without sauce, so when the first one came to the table WITH sauce our wonderful waiter caught it before he even set it down and said, oh they sent out the wrong one, I'll be right back! I didn't get sick!

I also feel safe at Outback and McDonald's

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Outback and McDonalds are 2 places I also trust when I have to go out to eat. I just don't like to eat out like I used to but those are 2 places I do trust when it comes to gluten.

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