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I'm 2-months post celiac diagnosis, and at this point I refuse to eat out at a restaurant. In my view, it is one thing to tell the server/cook that you need to have a gluten-free meal, but then the cook may give orders to a less well-intentioned "kitchen-helper", who may stir pots or spread sauces or whatever with contaminated utensils. Another example: in my area a well-known pizza chain is priding themselves on now having a gluten-free pizza . . .however, they use the same oven and pans (although they've been cleaned, I'm told) as for regular pizza and it is just teenagers and young 20-somethings that work in the kitchen, so who knows just how g.f. the pizzas really are (no offense to those under 25 reading this!!). It's a huge issue of trust, and I guess I'm not there yet (if I ever will be). So, I'm curious: first, how many of you dine out in restaurants? And secondly, for those that do, how do you ensure that your meal really is g.f.?

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I'm not ready to eat out yet either but hope some day I'll be comfortable enough to try it. I only eat food that I make myself. Don't even trust my husband's cooking.

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It takes a while to get comfortable with the idea of eating in restaurants. I would start with either a restaurant that offers a gluten free menu and therefore purports to know something about gluten free dining, or with a dining establishment where you can talk directly to the chef and with any luck have him personally prepare your meal to your specifications. Even then, you have to form a good relationship with your server and make sure they fully understand your requirements, and don't go adding croutons or dressings or something you did not order.

I have been lucky with my eating out so far and have not been glutened, although I have eaten some pretty tasteless meals in some places :P But it was a good year before I attempted it.

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It's been almost fours years gluten-free for me, and I've only eaten in a restaurant once. It was three months ago at the Raintree Cafe. Wasn't planning on eating, just accompanying the family. Explained why I wasn't ordering. Manger came over, was very knowledgeable about gluten, and assured me they could make a gluten-free meal. It was only a cheeseburger, but it was fantastic!! :lol: It felt SO good to be able to et something that had been prepared for me, not by me.

I have not eaten out since then (we were on a vacation). I just don't take any chances because the cost (getting glutened) is too painful. :(

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I can't imagine not eating out on occasion! When we're doing a lot of running around on business in other towns, especially. And my hubby would be one bummed-out guy if we never ate out, as well. :( So I just try to be really careful, explain my situation, and ask lots of questions, in a non-demanding, gracious way. Yes, it's a real pain, having to explain myself over and over, having to educate people almost everywhere we eat, but it's worth it to me. And I'm trying to learn the "usual" ingredients in some of my favorite dishes, for example Pad Thai.

Like today, we picked up my daughter and took her to the nearest "large" city where she works, to her dentist so she could have her wisdom teeth out. I ate before we left, but didn't have time for a real meal, but just figured I'd wait until we got home before eating again. But hubby hadn't eaten much either, and since it was looking like it was going to take longer than we thought, I asked one of the receptionists if she knew of any restaurants in the area that served g.f. food. She didn't but got on the computer and looked some up! :) But as it turned out, the "nearest" one turned out to be closed, so we stopped at a Thai place and I had Pad Thai. And yes, I had to ask questions, but.....so far I feel o.k.

On the other hand, a place we ate at yesterday, where the mgr. was also g.f. and helped me find a wonderful g.f. meal.....I left there with a mild bellyache that turned into that sword-through-the-gut pain before long---and all the other exact same symptoms I've been getting lately from avocados! I think it was either the fresh kiwi or strawberry. :blink: So, I get no gluten, but get sick anyway. :(

Such is life.

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Eating out is tricky, and you always have to remember that you are at the mercy of others.

I have a couple places that I stick to, but in general, eating outside of those places is not high on my list. Even at that, I got seriously glutened from gluten-free pizza. The place takes a lot of precautions to make sure there is no contamination, so I'm not sure that they didn't just grab the wrong dough. Or someone got really, really sloppy. Didn't really matter after I ate it.

The point is, you take a risk. Most of the time, it works out in my favor. Occasionally, it doesn't. Like I said though, pretty short list of places I will eat (and that one is no longer on it!) I trust a couple of people to cook for me, and that's about it. Mostly the people that saw me at my sickest and who understand.

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We eat out a 6 or 7 times a year. Before getting diagnosed, we ate out a few times a week!

At first, I hardly ever asked questions when we went out. I just picked out meals that I thought were gluten-free. I got sick a lot.

Now, we go to restaurants that have gluten-free menus. ONLY restaurants that have gluten-free menus. If I talk to a waitperson who looks at me with a blank stare when I talk about celiac and gluten-free as I'm ordering, I ask to talk to the manager. I've had great experiences. The only time I got sick since I started asking questions and telling them about gluten and celiac was at a pizza restaurant. They use special deep-dish pans to cook the pizzas in, so it wasn't cross contamination in the oven. It was an ingredient. I order chicken as a topping, so they dice up some chicken and put it on top. This particular time, they put the regular chicken on (with gluten spices) instead of gluten-free chicken. I was sick after four bites (I'm quick to feel the effects of gluten). I rushed out and vomited on their front lawn. Serves them right to give me gluten pizza! They comp'd the meal. (I wouldn't have paid for it anyway.) DH took his regular pizza home and I was so nauseous in the car that we had to pull over several times so I could vomit. There must have been some serious gluten spice on that chicken. I don't know what it was - I didn't eat very much. Of course, I couldn't wait to get home because I desperately needed a toilet, too!

But I've gone back there. The pizza is heaven and I haven't gotten sick. Pizza's a really hard food to imitate on your own. I've never been able to make a great pizza.

I think they're super-careful with the gluten-free pizza now. They don't want people vomiting on their lawn where other patrons are waiting. :-)

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Now, we go to restaurants that have gluten-free menus. ONLY restaurants that have gluten-free menus. If I talk to a waitperson who looks at me with a blank stare when I talk about celiac and gluten-free as I'm ordering, I ask to talk to the manager.

Pizza's a really hard food to imitate on your own. I've never been able to make a great pizza.

I prefer P.F. Changs, they make life a lot easier and the are the safest when it comes to CC.

Going out to eat whas the hardest thing for me to start doing after diagnosis. It was scary and I wasn't too sure what to say. It is one of those things that does get easier with time. If you are unsure how to mention it to the restaraunt staff, there are cards you can print off of the internet to give them to help explain things. If it is a place I haven't been to before, I ask for a manager, and usually end up talking to everyone (I think I even talked to the dishwasher at one place). You have to remember one thing, it is your health, not theirs. Also many times I find myself explaining what I go through becuase many people just don't know. I figure it can only help out someone else like us down the road. I even explained to a waiter what he needs to ask/tell his doctor due to issues he was having.

As far as pizza, I have had the best luck using Bob's Redmill Pizza Crust mix. I end up making individual size pizza crusts with it and freezing the rest.

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Sometimes I take the risk, and sometimes I pay for it. When I discover a new place that can take care of me, though, I generally become a regular.

I've started to see eating out as more of a social endeavor than a food adventure, and that helps. Recently I went somewhere where the ONLY thing I could have was plain, white rice. Seriously. But because the company and conversation were good, I didn't much mind.

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There has been more than one occasion that I've gone out and my "meal" consisted of water. I'm not willing to take chances on gluten, and if I'm at a place I don't feel comfortable, I'm not going to eat. But I still get to socialize with my friends. I find it, however, VITAL in this sort of situation to have eaten (a full meal) ahead of time, and possibly have some variety of snack with you. If your stomach is full (and your body is decent at regulating it's hunger) you won't WANT to eat more food.

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Go with your gut...no pun intended! :) I eat out about once a week, and I pick my locations carefully. If someone refers to me to a place because they are gluten free as well, or a restaurant advertises gluten free, chances are, they know what it entails. Restaurant owners and managers are not stupid when it comes to the risk of stating gluten free. That's not to say you won't get glutened...there is always a risk. However, for example, the places I normally get pizza at buy crusts that are on their own aluminum tray, so the pizza never touches a glutened rack. But it is made in the same ovens. They know to wash their hands and use a separate cutter. But those gluteny fingers have touched the same toppings. I've never had a problem...but I don't think I'm as sensitive as some.

I did get glutened at a sushi place, and I believe it was CC, as I did all the right things and ordered the proper food. I have ordered it at other sushi restaurants and been fine. So it is a risk. I do not, however, want to spend my entire life never being able to enjoy a Friday night out with my husband. I'd rather take the risk (and believe me, I'm still paying for that sushi) when 9 times out of 10 I'm fine. :) But that is me and my decision. Yours may be different.

I should add -- I cook at home all the time, and I think my food is LOADS better than restaurants...but there is something to be said for a meal out, too.

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As a 24 year old, eating out is a huge part of my social life that I didn't want to give up. I got diagnosed with celiac about 3 months ago and have already been out a few times. I actually went to a restaurant with a gluten-free menu on the way home from my endoscopy to bite the bullet! You just have to be smart about it, for example I would be cautious about pizza chains and their diligence with CC. I have stuck to smaller local places where they make to food fresh on site. I always call ahead to ask if they have gluten-free options, and if they understand what I mean, I'll give the restaurant a shot. At the restaurant, be clear with the server and if they are making the meals fresh any alterations shouldn't be a problem. I have only been sick once so far. As much as it sucked, I have had so many great experiences out with friends that it is risk I have to take. And I am very sensitive to even tiny bits of gluten! My goal is not to let celiac control my life!

But...I am spending 5 weeks in Germany, France, and Spain this August and am VERY nervous about having to eat out all the time, and in a place where they don't speak English!

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I am new to this but I can't imagine not being able to eat out, because it's a big part of my social life, and I'm also part of a family who eats out at least once a week and I don't want to not be a part of that. So far I've eaten at 2 local breakfast restaurants where I've had omelets and been ok (that seems to be a safe option that I'll stick to whenever I can), I've had a tostada with no meat from Taco Bell and that ok as well, and finally I ordered pizza from a place with gluten-free crust and was fine. I'm still getting used to figuring out what dishes will be safe for me, but I'm hoping the good luck I've had so far will continue. I'm getting food from Buca di Beppo tomorrow but I've already talked to them about gluten-free options and they have a few. I think it definitely seems possible to eat out gluten-free, it's just harder.

But...I am spending 5 weeks in Germany, France, and Spain this August and am VERY nervous about having to eat out all the time, and in a place where they don't speak English!

I know what you mean, I'm going to Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic in July and I'm really nervous.

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I am new to this but I can't imagine not being able to eat out, because it's a big part of my social life, and I'm also part of a family who eats out at least once a week and I don't want to not be a part of that. So far I've eaten at 2 local breakfast restaurants where I've had omelets and been ok (that seems to be a safe option that I'll stick to whenever I can), I've had a tostada with no meat from Taco Bell and that ok as well, and finally I ordered pizza from a place with gluten-free crust and was fine. I'm still getting used to figuring out what dishes will be safe for me, but I'm hoping the good luck I've had so far will continue. I'm getting food from Buca di Beppo tomorrow but I've already talked to them about gluten-free options and they have a few. I think it definitely seems possible to eat out gluten-free, it's just harder.

I know what you mean, I'm going to Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic in July and I'm really nervous.

Just looked at Taco Bell menu. None of the food looks safe. Most contains wheat & the few that don't they list as cross contaminated.

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Just looked at Taco Bell menu. None of the food looks safe. Most contains wheat & the few that don't they list as cross contaminated.

I've been lucky so far but I've eaten out very minimally.

I've gone to one bar/restaurant up by me on two occasions.

They know me and I've told them I am very sensitive to wheat, barley and rye, and they know exactly what is in the sauce for the bourbon beef tips (no soy, yay!!).

The other restaurant I've eaten at is a Vietnamese place near me too. They are wonderful - I start to explain and they're already telling me what I already know :) - they are also very knowledgeable and mindful of people with nut allergies and soy allergies and cater to them very well. Great place!!

But I am not comfortable going to a place serves mostly wheat based ingredients like pizza or Italian. I'm very sensitive to any little bit of gluten and it gets me for a few days afterwards. I won't ever eat at any fast food restaurant again, I think.

I love to cook, however, and I am very comfortable cooking and baking and making lots of Indian food (which is inherently gluten-free unless you eat the bread!!). And that is my fave cuisine anyway. I just prefer to know what really is in the food I am making for myself. I know that the condiments I use are gluten-free but that is the one things that still slightly scares me!!

I don't know whether I'll actually have the courage to really eat out ever again. Aside from Asian meals (not really counting Chinese or a lot of Japanese cuisine as there is too much soy). Maybe that's kind of sad but I know that my sensitivity towards gluten is only going to get worse, and I'd rather just not chance it.

~Allison

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I'm 2-months post celiac diagnosis, and at this point I refuse to eat out at a restaurant. In my view, it is one thing to tell the server/cook that you need to have a gluten-free meal, but then the cook may give orders to a less well-intentioned "kitchen-helper", who may stir pots or spread sauces or whatever with contaminated utensils. Another example: in my area a well-known pizza chain is priding themselves on now having a gluten-free pizza . . .however, they use the same oven and pans (although they've been cleaned, I'm told) as for regular pizza and it is just teenagers and young 20-somethings that work in the kitchen, so who knows just how g.f. the pizzas really are (no offense to those under 25 reading this!!). It's a huge issue of trust, and I guess I'm not there yet (if I ever will be). So, I'm curious: first, how many of you dine out in restaurants? And secondly, for those that do, how do you ensure that your meal really is g.f.?

It is entirely possible to eat out and receive a gluten-free meal but there are many factors in making this happen. It's a shame when people are afraid to eat out because it's an important social aspect to life today.

Living in a progressive gluten-free city helps enormously. I live outside of Boston and it's one of THE best gluten-free cities in the US. Lots of Ivy League schools and highly educated people walking around which makes a big difference. I generally only eat at higher end restaurants but will make exceptions if one of the chains does a consistently good job of it. Many around here actually have training classes and you can tell just by talking to the staff who really knows what they are doing. Many have a checks and balance system where the preparers are checked up on to make sure they are doing it correctly. It also helps to establish a relationship with the owner or manager so you can talk to them directly about your needs. I have learned that in a down economy, restaurants are only too willing to find another market to cater to.

The reason for frequenting higher end places is they generally have gone to culinary school and know what gluten is and have a firm grasp on CC issues.

It has worked well for me but I also do not eat out all that much. About once every month or two is all but that changes when I go on vacation.

How do I know I am getting a truly gluten-free meal? I haven't gotten sick from eating out in about 3 years now and I am an extremely sensitive, diagnosed Celiac. If I ingest any amount of gluten, I know it. Plus, I am also very serio-positive when it comes to the blood work and recently had mine re-done. It showed I am not ingesting ANY gluten. I know this isn't going to work for everyone but it makes it much easier for me to know if I am being compliant while eating out. Bottom line is if you go out and do not become sick, then consider it a success and don't obsess about it. If you do get sick, I wouldn't go back to whatever place you ate at, period. You also have to keep dining out to a minimum. You can go out as often as you want but that tends to become risky.

I do not eat at Uno's and get their gluten-free pizza for the reasons you stated above. It's a lower end chain and I don't trust them. The pizza place I tend to go to when in the need for a pizza is a non-chain restaurant and has Celiac's in the family so I think they "get it" better than some. I have never gotten sick from their pizza so feel comfortable on the few times I eat there. I pretty much interview any restaurant I am unfamiliar with and decide after talking with them whether to chance eating there. Once you try eating out and have success with it, your confidence level gets better!

I am 5 years diagnosed so am quite used to everything by now.....you will get there too!

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Just looked at Taco Bell menu. None of the food looks safe. Most contains wheat & the few that don't they list as cross contaminated.

Yeah, the tostada is the main dish that they list as ok. I did some research, and people on this board had mentioned being able to eat it, but I also saw posts that said the meat is seasoned with gluten. So I ordered it with no meat (and no sour cream, because I don't like it anyway) and got tomatoes instead and I was fine. It's of course up to you, though, whether or not you want to try it.

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I'm 2-months post celiac diagnosis, and at this point I refuse to eat out at a restaurant. In my view, it is one thing to tell the server/cook that you need to have a gluten-free meal, but then the cook may give orders to a less well-intentioned "kitchen-helper", who may stir pots or spread sauces or whatever with contaminated utensils. Another example: in my area a well-known pizza chain is priding themselves on now having a gluten-free pizza . . .however, they use the same oven and pans (although they've been cleaned, I'm told) as for regular pizza and it is just teenagers and young 20-somethings that work in the kitchen, so who knows just how g.f. the pizzas really are (no offense to those under 25 reading this!!). It's a huge issue of trust, and I guess I'm not there yet (if I ever will be). So, I'm curious: first, how many of you dine out in restaurants? And secondly, for those that do, how do you ensure that your meal really is g.f.?

Give yourself a chance to heal and get used to the in's and out's of the gluten-free world. I have been gluten-free for 2.5 years and it was scary and very overwelming at first. I eat out a lot for my job. One thing that helped me, was downloading and printing out various gluten-free menu's and keeping them in a binder in my car. That way I was never without a place I could go and at least get something!

I was told at 6 mo. you are on the road to healing and maybe that would be a good time to start branching-out. Try P.F. Changs, Carraba's, & Bonefish; since I have never had a problem at any of them and they seem to be the most well versed and trained about gluten-free.

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As a 24 year old, eating out is a huge part of my social life that I didn't want to give up. I got diagnosed with celiac about 3 months ago and have already been out a few times. I actually went to a restaurant with a gluten-free menu on the way home from my endoscopy to bite the bullet! You just have to be smart about it, for example I would be cautious about pizza chains and their diligence with CC. I have stuck to smaller local places where they make to food fresh on site. I always call ahead to ask if they have gluten-free options, and if they understand what I mean, I'll give the restaurant a shot. At the restaurant, be clear with the server and if they are making the meals fresh any alterations shouldn't be a problem. I have only been sick once so far. As much as it sucked, I have had so many great experiences out with friends that it is risk I have to take. And I am very sensitive to even tiny bits of gluten! My goal is not to let celiac control my life!

But...I am spending 5 weeks in Germany, France, and Spain this August and am VERY nervous about having to eat out all the time, and in a place where they don't speak English!

A friend of mine just got back from Spain. He was surprised at the level of awareness of gluten and gluten intolerance. Gluten-free labels were surprisingly common!

I don't know about the rest of Europe, but you should be fine in Spain. :D

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I'm really new at this too...and have a question about fast food/restaurant salads? I know salad dressing can contain gluten, but what if I used my own gluten-free kind? We go out quite a bit and like the others (hubby and I like to go out on regular date nights!), I really don't want to give that up.

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A friend of mine just got back from Spain. He was surprised at the level of awareness of gluten and gluten intolerance. Gluten-free labels were surprisingly common!

I don't know about the rest of Europe, but you should be fine in Spain. :D

That is so great to hear. I am bummed to not be able to have beer and schnitzel in Germany, pastries in Paris, and local Spanish cuisine. But knowing that I won't starve is a comfort!

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