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Lynayah

The Pro-active Let Them Know What You Need Thread

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This is a thread about being assertive and asking for what you need. This is where you can post your experiences when dealing with dining establishments OR when eating at work, parties, friends homes, etc.

If there is already a thread just like this, please let me know.

The purpose here is for all of us to work together to help each other learn to be more assertive in asking for what we need.

I posted this experience in another thread and will post it here to get things started. It was in response to a forum member complaining about the lack of assistance some restaurants will give:

I find it amazing how helpful some restaurants can be if you call and speak with a manger first -- not the chef but the owner or top manager (the person who would have to deal with libility).

It is interesting that some restaurants I would never have assumed would be helpful have indeed been very helpful.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I went to a moderately-priced buffet (Golden Corral). I called and spoke with the head manager who was so incredibly kind! He listened to me, REALLY listened, and he promised me he would prepare a freshly butchered slice of sirloin steak on a dedicated grill, with no marinade or spices added whatsoever.

He also promised to prepare any fruits or veggies fresh if needed, in case I was worried about buffet cross-contamination.

And this was in a restaurant where they didn't even know what gluten-intolorance was until I spoke with them.

My meal was fine -- delicious and free of symptoms afterwards.

Other managers at other restaurants have been equally wonderful in telling me that, while they cannot guarantee that any food won't be cross-contaminated, I am welcome to bring my own food. This allows me to attend dining parties or club meetings with no problem, and with no burden on those booking the restaurant.

I guess the bottom line is to keep calling, keep trying. If enough restaurants get enough calls, they'll start to listen.

I'm very new to having to be gluten-assertive, although I've been very weight-loss assertive in the past, so I guess I have a lot of practice.

I've found that if you expect people to care, most often they will.

Here is one of my favorite ways to introduce the topic when I call a restaurant:

First, I always ask to speak to the head manager. I always tell the person who answers the phone exactly why I am calling -- this is important. I say that I am coming into dine -- and looking forward to it -- but I have serious dietary restrictions and need to speak to the head person in charge.

If you do not tell them why you are calling, the staff often assumes you're calling to complain about something, and they put you through to an assistant manager instead. Health concerns get you to the top very quickly, and you won't be put on hold a gazillion times!

Then, in my most friendly voice (smile as you talk, people WILL hear it), I say, "I have some extremely serious dietary restrictions, and I'm looking for a restaurant manager who's willing to be my hero (alternately I might say "who's willing to help make my life easier) -- I get very sick if I eat gluten . . . and I would like to dine in your restaurant tonight, might you have time to help me sort things out?"

Always get the manager's name so when you go in you can tell the wait staff that you talked to him/her.

Oh my gosh, this has worked so well that I almost feel like I'm best friends with managment by the time I am done! People are wonderful if you just give them half a chance.

What works for you?

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I've only called once, for a restaurant I knew we'd be going to during a busy time. I was put through to the chef who knew exactly what I was talking about and gave me a list of dishes that would be fine.

I walked into a cafe and told the counter guy that I couldn't eat gluten, and he responded with "Is that all you can't eat?"

At a Mexican, up scale restaurant I told the wait person that I had a problem with wheat, and she responded with "these dishes here have no gluten".

At another upscale place (I gotta get cheaper friends) I gave the wait person my (now) list of food avoidances, and he came back with "that dish you chose (I always give options) should be fine, but the chef recommends you don't get french fries because he can't guarantee them."

And yes, I have gone to places and been told that the only thing they have to offer is rice, but mostly I get lucky.

I always figure, if that staff knows about gluten, it's because some considerate person before me has taken the time to educate them.

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I'm still learning, and will be interested to hear what tips all of you have. The few times I've been out, I've asked for the celiac menu intentionally instead of the gluten free menu. The response to that question and then comparing it to asking for the gluten free menu has been a little test as to how knowledgable the waitress is. I expect a little confusion asking for the celiac menu. I don't want any when I ask for gluten free. This way, I can tell I didn't just catch someone off guard. The best experience I had was at a restaraunt with a celiac chef and I told the hostess I had celiac disease and I could tell I had just kicked a familiar process into action. Within minutes, the chef of the evening and the manager arrived in turn at my table. Then the waitress and bus boy started bringing my items seperately with something to mark me as gluten free (I forget what they did). I never had so much attention and the tip was excellent for her. I think it may be time for a drive north again.

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The best experience I had was at a restaraunt with a celiac chef and I told the hostess I had celiac disease and I could tell I had just kicked a familiar process into action. Within minutes, the chef of the evening and the manager arrived in turn at my table. Then the waitress and bus boy started bringing my items seperately with something to mark me as gluten free (I forget what they did). I never had so much attention and the tip was excellent for her. I think it may be time for a drive north again.

Have you posted about this place so others in your area will know to try it out?

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We went to Oregon for a week recently....drove there and back from Southern CA with a 3 year old and a 4 year old. All four of us have gluten issues and are gluten free.

I concur that speaking with the top manager works wonders! Triumph Dining Cards are extremely helpful as well. The link below is to a topic I started about our experience at a Sheraton hotel during the trip:

http://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/index.php?showtopic=61550

Also, during another search for somewhere to eat breakfast, I called a Denny's Restaurant in desperation. I asked to speak to the manager and she assured me that they would work with me to ensure that my family had a safe and healthful dining experience. Denny's actually has a pamphlet about allergens in their food, which was a pleasant surprise.

When we arrived, I again asked to speak to the manager on duty (it was a different person). I mentioned my phone call and gave her a Triumph Dining card for the kitchen staff and waitress. She started to hand it back saying that the cooks only spoke Spanish, but I showed her that the card is in Spanish on the back side.

So everyone read it and we did not have any problems at all! And this is at a Denny's on Sunday morning!!

Thanks for starting this topic!

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Thanks for starting this topic!

Nasalady,

You're welcome! And thank you (and everyone here) for posting. This is going to be a fun thread.

PS: I see you will have your one year gluten-free anniversary next month. Congratulations on getting through the first year!

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I am beginning to realize that I should keep a notebook or spreadsheet of my dining experiences. I was thinking of going back to Golden Corral this weekend, and I almost forgot the manager's name.

If I keep everything noted, I can remember the names as well as tidbits about the experience so I can give additional thanks.

If I don't write it down, I'll forget it. I guess I still have brain fog!

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Anyone know how to get one of those dining cards in Canada? Preferably in French and English :)

Thanks,

Jillian

We went to Oregon for a week recently....drove there and back from Southern CA with a 3 year old and a 4 year old. All four of us have gluten issues and are gluten free.

I concur that speaking with the top manager works wonders! Triumph Dining Cards are extremely helpful as well. The link below is to a topic I started about our experience at a Sheraton hotel during the trip:

http://www.celiac.com/gluten-free/index.php?showtopic=61550

Also, during another search for somewhere to eat breakfast, I called a Denny's Restaurant in desperation. I asked to speak to the manager and she assured me that they would work with me to ensure that my family had a safe and healthful dining experience. Denny's actually has a pamphlet about allergens in their food, which was a pleasant surprise.

When we arrived, I again asked to speak to the manager on duty (it was a different person). I mentioned my phone call and gave her a Triumph Dining card for the kitchen staff and waitress. She started to hand it back saying that the cooks only spoke Spanish, but I showed her that the card is in Spanish on the back side.

So everyone read it and we did not have any problems at all! And this is at a Denny's on Sunday morning!!

Thanks for starting this topic!

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Found the website online, hope this helps!

"Triumph Dining Cards

* Laminated and portable cards fold neatly into any wallet or purse

* Order safely in ten languages: English, Chinese, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Spanish (Mexican), Thai, and Vietnamese

* Tailored to each cuisine. (Japanese card prohibits imitation crab, soy sauce, and tempura; Mexican card prohibits flour tortillas, etc.)

* Takes the average chef just 1 minute to read and comprehend

* Helps avoid cross-contamination"

Order here!

Not sure where they ship too but they are not American only. A lot more detailed then the free ones :) Worth the money!

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Thanks, yes I did look at that website but they only ship to the U.S. Perhaps I shall just print something off from one of the free websites.

Thanks,

Jillian

Found the website online, hope this helps!

"Triumph Dining Cards

* Laminated and portable cards fold neatly into any wallet or purse

* Order safely in ten languages: English, Chinese, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Spanish (Mexican), Thai, and Vietnamese

* Tailored to each cuisine. (Japanese card prohibits imitation crab, soy sauce, and tempura; Mexican card prohibits flour tortillas, etc.)

* Takes the average chef just 1 minute to read and comprehend

* Helps avoid cross-contamination"

Order here!

Not sure where they ship too but they are not American only. A lot more detailed then the free ones :) Worth the money!

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Are there cards for multiple food intolerances?

No gluten, no casein for example.

Ideally - no gluten, casein, soy or egg.

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