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What Do I Ask At A Restraurant?

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I am going out with friends on Tuesday night. This is the first time I've gone with friends since I've been diagnosed. I'm really worried about getting sick. I haven't been glutened for a couple of months now and I want to keep the stretch going. What should I do to make sure that my dining experience is as safe as possible? We'll be going to a restaurant with a gluten free menu, but it doesn't feel like that is enough. What do I need to do? Thank you.

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I am going out with friends on Tuesday night. This is the first time I've gone with friends since I've been diagnosed. I'm really worried about getting sick. I haven't been glutened for a couple of months now and I want to keep the stretch going. What should I do to make sure that my dining experience is as safe as possible? We'll be going to a restaurant with a gluten free menu, but it doesn't feel like that is enough. What do I need to do? Thank you.

I would announce upon arrival that I am a gluten free diner, and that I would like a waitperson who is celiac knowledgeable. If you are not happy with the answers that that person gives you upon ordering (now this is depending on what kind of place it is, of course) ask if you can talk to the chef to find out what is safe for you to eat (because so many of us have other things we cannot eat as well.) Do not be afraid to go into detail about how your meal will be prepared and served - clean grill or clean pan, clean salad bowl, etc. And then it's up to the Gods - may they shine upon you! :D


Neroli

"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." - Albert Einstein

"Life is not weathering the storm; it is learning to dance in the rain"

"Whatever the question, the answer is always chocolate." Nigella Lawson

------------

Caffeine free 1973

Lactose free 1990

(Mis)diagnosed IBS, fibromyalgia '80's and '90's

Diagnosed psoriatic arthritis 2004

Self-diagnosed gluten intolerant, gluten-free Nov. 2007

Soy free March 2008

Nightshade free Feb 2009

Citric acid free June 2009

Potato starch free July 2009

(Totally) corn free Nov. 2009

Legume free March 2010

Now tolerant of lactose

Celiac.com - Celiac Disease Board Moderator

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If they have a gluten free menu I ask for it as soon as I walk in the door, before being seated. If they don't have a clue what the gluten free menu is or can't find it, then RUN (or ask to speak to a manager if you are determined to eat there). Some places do have to go in the back and print it off the internet for you, like at Red Robin (they update the info every month). For that place I bring my own copy and make sure it is up to date. Even when carrying my own gluten free menu in, I alert the hostess that I will be ordering off the gluten free menu. When the server comes to take our drink order I also alert him or her that I'm ordering off the gluten free menu and I ask questions about how a specific item is prepared (I decide what I want before going in).

Having questions about a specific item makes it a little easier than just asking "what do you do to prevent cross contamination?" So for instance, if I'm ordering a burger and fries I point to it on the gluten-free menu and say, "Are your burgers made on the same grill as other burgers that have the wheat seasoning I need to avoid? Do you cook your fries in the same oil as any other food that is breaded?" Etc. I ask when everyone is ordering the drinks so that the server has a chance to go in the back and ask questions if he doesn't know the answer and our order is not held up by him checking with the kitchen. Then when I order I repeat that I'm ordering off the gluten free menu and to please be careful, pause to give them plenty of time to write down gluten free. If they don't write gluten free first, then I say the words gluten free again with my order: "I'd like a burger with no bun and no seasoning, so gluten free, use a lettuce wrap in place of the bun to make it gluten free, <Pause to give them time to write> and fries with no seasoning, so gluten free." Let them take it all down and then if they don't repeat it back to you, ask them if they would repeat it back to make sure they got it right.

One last tip: While ordering and interacting with restaurant staff, always remember your manners and use the words, "please and thank you" a lot. We are putting our health in the hands of others when eating out. Our need to ask lots of questions while ordering *could* be very annoying if done wrong, so it's important to be as polite as possible. It's also a good idea to go at a time/day when it is not very busy. You will have more of your server's attention and the cooks are less likely to mess up your order because they are being bombarded with orders. At a really good place the manager will come over to ask you how things are or to assure you that they will be taking the utmost care with your order. At first I didn't like having to ask so many questions when dining out. I have never been a picky eater and I don't like drawing attention to myself, but now I have come to realize at the good places we get VIP-type treatment. The manager always asks how our dining experience was if not while we are eating, when we are on the way out the door.

I hope you have a good first experience. It does take some time to learn (or at least it did for me) what to ask. But once you get the hang of it it's not that bad.


A simple meal with love is better than a feast where there is hatred. Proverbs 15:17 (CEV)

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I am going out with friends on Tuesday night. This is the first time I've gone with friends since I've been diagnosed. I'm really worried about getting sick. I haven't been glutened for a couple of months now and I want to keep the stretch going. What should I do to make sure that my dining experience is as safe as possible? We'll be going to a restaurant with a gluten free menu, but it doesn't feel like that is enough. What do I need to do? Thank you.

I've been gluten-free since getting the flu last September and the start of GI symptoms. I've probably had DH for a few decades, but never diagnosed or tested, other than a negative Celiac Panel two years ago. I've been completely gluten-free since Jan (it takes a while to find out every place the nasty molecules lurk). I am very sensitive to CC. If you have fries, make sure nothing breaded can fall into the dedicated fryer. If you have salad and it comes with bread crumbs then hid some of them under the lettuce before you send it back (D from a waiter that just removed the croutons); when I called the manager to mention the problem, she asked if I got sick from eating the bread sticks. ONLY eat at the restaurant if it is safe. There is an amazing lack of knowledge about Celiac; even if you have the dining card and mention how sensitive you are, waiters are busy and tend not to listen. Be very courteous and thankful, your health is in their hands. Most of the times I've gotten sick from eating out were from gluten-free menu establishments. When I eat at a restaurant and don't get sick, I contact the management later to thank them and the wait staff. Call the restaurant before you go, preferably at a non-busy time, and talk to the manager about options. You might want to keep the meal simple so you can track down the problem if there is CC. It can be good to eat something before you go to dinner, so you won't be hungry. All of this sounds a bit anal retentive, but with Celiac anal retentive can be good.

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It may be helpful to explain that wheat, rye, barley and oats and anything that comes into contact with them make you extremely sick. Even if you may be able to tolerate oats, it still may be helpful to include them. Too many people have no clue what gluten is.

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Thank you all for your wonderful advice. I don't know exactly where we are going to go, or when because it depends on when my friends get back from the amusement park. But we are going out on a tomorrow night, so hopefully it wont be too busy. I'm going to suggest a couple of places, but they get to pick since they are paying. I'll let you know how it goes. I don't think I've ever been so nervous about going out to eat before.

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If you don't go to a place with a gluten free menu, then my advice above (just repeating gluten free) will not work. You will need to talk to the manager or the chef. The safest thing at most places would be a plain salad with no croutons, no won-ton strips, etc and no dressing. Bring your own dressing or ask for just olive oil on the salad. Ask that the people preparing your salad change their gloves prior to handling the lettuce and ask that it be mixed in a clean bowl away from any food with crumbs. If they do not know what gluten free means, explain that you have an allergy to wheat, rye and barley (which includes all bread and pasta) and you need them to take these requests seriously (and yes I know that it is not really an "allergy" but that word usually makes people take more precaution). Another thing that is usually safe would be a plain baked potato. Grilled meats could be safe, but then you need to ask about marinades (nothing with soy sauce), seasonings and cc on the grill. Steamed veggies same thing as the meat, you have to ask how they are cooked and about any seasonings.

Good luck!


A simple meal with love is better than a feast where there is hatred. Proverbs 15:17 (CEV)

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Thank you all for your good information. Sadly my friends' plans changed so we are not going out. I will keep this all in mind for next time I go out to eat (whenever that might be.)

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Bummer your plans got cancelled.

I ditto what others said. If they have a gluten free menu I tell them I'm very sensitive. Can they make sure it's a clean pan, clean grill or whatever.

If they don't have a gluten free menu I talk to manager never ever a server. Then I ask them to help me figure out what to eat.

Tell them not only wheat, barley and rye, but that soy sauce often contains wheat as do salad dressings and marinades. Or if it's marinated in beer. One place thought I could eat the chicken until I mentioned the soy sauce. There was soy sauce in the marinade. Most places can do a piece of grilled meat with only salt and pepper on it and clean the grill or make you a hamburger in a lettuce wrap.

If you are nice they will go out of their way for you. I've had managers go and get lists of ingredients for salad dressings for me and bring out tubs of stuff for me to read.

Once I have scoped out a restaurant then I just order the same thing when I go there.


Lots of doctors diagnosed me with lots of things including IBS, lactose intolerance, wheat intolerance, and quite a few of them threw up their hands in total confusion.

Had GI symptoms, allergy symptoms and unexplained illness my whole life.

Jan. 2010 Diagnosed celiac at the age of 40.

Ready to get well and get on with my life!

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