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Hello,

I have Celiac (found out this year) and I keep getting glutened. I am starting to get so frustrated. I am in graduate school and live in Connecticut (my family does not live here). My fiance is part of a very close, big, italian family who loves to get together and go out to dinner every weekend. They go through every effort to find restaurants that have gluten-free menus (Bertuccis, Chilis, Olive Garden, Burtons, Wood N'Tap, etc.). Despite their efforts, almost every time I go out to dinner with them, I still end up getting glutened and I am sick all week. At this point, I dont really trust the gluten-free menus. If anyone lives in CT, any good restuarant suggestions?

If I just order a salad every time I go out and bring my own dressing, would that be a guaranteed gluten-free option? Maybe I should skip any meat on the salad too. Anything to watch out for with salads? Or, does anyone have any other tips?

Also, as a college student my friends and I like to get together and go to the bars. I am confused about which alcohol is safe and not safe. I know I can drink wine. I know I can't drink beer. But, what about mixed drinks? Are margaritas safe?

Thanks!

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It sounds like the restaurants you're visiting are not taking enough care to prevent cross-contamination. If you're super-sensitive I don't know that you'll even find a salad made in a gluten-covered restaurant kitchen consistently safe because of CC on the cutting boards. I personally don't have trouble with restaurant salads served with oil and vinegar.

As far as alcohol, unsafe things are beer, malt liquor, and many wine coolers because they have either malt alcohol or flavoring.

Here is a "safe" list.

http://www.celiac.com/articles/222/1/Gluten-Free-Alcoholic-Beverages/Page1.html

Pay a little attention if you drink whisky, gin, bourbon, vodka, or liqueurs made with grain alcohol. The distillation makes it safe for most celiacs, but we do have a few people here who find they don't tolerate distilled vinegars or spirits. If you find you're sensitive, Bacardi rum and 100% agave tequillas like Jose Cuervo are not made from any grains at all.

As far as margaritas, I have never seen a margarita mix or sour mix with gluten. If you react to grain alcohol, you'll have to skip the Triple Sec.

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I thought vodka was safe- but i realize you're right, it's typically a grain alcohol. Is potato vodka the only safe alternative in terms of vodka??? Or is that only if you're sensetive.

Thanks for clarification!

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I go out every FRI night with friends for dinner. If they choose a place I can't eat off the menu, I call ahead and say we have a big group and someone with a major food alergy. would they mind if the person brought thier own food and ordered a beverage from them- no one has said no yet.

I also have what I call my "freak bag" Its a little zip up lunch bag and I keep all kinds of gluten free condiments ( I've learned to bring my own ketchup and stuff cause ppl do wierd stuff to the ones on the tables...)

And you have to be proactive- its harder to be spontaneous with eating out- it can be done, just have ask lots of questions- call ahead when you can... things like that...

As far as liquor- I stick to wine most of the time... I have had some really expensive scotch and had no reaction... Everything I read on the net about liquor seems contradictory...

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I thought vodka was safe- but i realize you're right, it's typically a grain alcohol. Is potato vodka the only safe alternative in terms of vodka??? Or is that only if you're sensetive.

Thanks for clarification!

It is unusual to be sensitive enough to react to distilled spirits. I just mention it so you're aware there is a slight chance.

Yes, a potato vodka would be gluten-free without question.

I drink single malt scotch all the time and don't react. I tried some Redbreast recently and my stomach got oddly upset.

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re: the alochol - you might want to consider holding off on the alochol for a little bit. My own GI had mentioned that alochol would slow my healing. If you are still getting glutened a lot, it might be helpful to keep alcohol out of your diet until you're feeling better.

Oh! For safe foods at the Olive Garden, anyway, their gluten free pasta might be the best choice - it is prepackaged and not made there. They just heat it up, so as long as you make sure they don't touch it with contaminated hands, that might do for you. A conscientious Olive Garden manager has said to me before that he didn't consider any other gluten free choice of theirs actually safe for someone who needed truly gluten free (rather than just 'very little gluten'). Too much chance of cross-contamination.

Have you spoken to any managers at the restaurants? Often if you do, and make it clear just what is needed to avoid getting ill, they can tell you if it can be done, or what they have that would work for you. Many times, the manager took it upon themselves to oversee our food prep to make sure it was truly free of gluten.

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Thank you all for your help! I am still pretty new at this and its a bit confusing. Also, I get embarrassed drawing attention to myself and asking restaurants for special services, but I think that is something I really need to get over. A lot of my friends don't understand the problem and they say, "C'mon, a little bit won't kill you." They think I am being dramatic. Its been a tough transition. So, I really appreciate all of your help! I will lay off the alcohol for awhile and be more vocal at restaurants. I actually went out last night with my italian in-laws and ordered a salad with oil and vinegar...no reaction! Thanks for the tip! Also, thanks for the advice about Olive Garden. I have ordered the mixed grill but that probably was not a wise choice (reacted)..next time, I'll stick to the gluten free pasta. THANKS!

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I am reading "the first year - Celiac disease and gluten free eating" by Jules Shepard awesome book!!!! Extremly helpful!! She has a card in there that you can make one for yourself and give to the waiter/waitress that way your aren't bringing extra attention to yourself you could even excuse yourself to the bathroom and give it to the manager or waiter in private away from your friends.

As for your friend the comments that they are making about its not going to kill you...directly no but it can and will lead to other diseases if you don't take care of it.

I suggest to anyone new to Celiacs to read this book!!!

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