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Kate35

Eating Out Or Not?...

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Hello,

I've writen here before and have received LOTS of support and advice. I think the most depressing thing is still being (feeing) so lonely and different... I used to LOVE holidays, social outings, spontaneous dinners etc. I loved to cook and I loved to experiment with food. However, i also enjoyed going to my friends for dinners and we actually got together quite often. I used to have regular luches with my two best friends a couple times a month where we caught up on things and just had a great time... I have not done any of that since the diagnosis... I did attend a party last week, where I just sat and pretended to eat and when noone was looking swapped the plates with my husband... I know food is not the most importand thing in the world, but, really it does not feel great to sit there drinking water dreading anyone asking you questions like "Would you like to try this? oh, this is sooo delicious...." How do you deal with it? Last time I posted, you all told me that it is all doable, and there are a number of restaurants that will accomodate you. But then you read about cross contamination, and I am not sure i can really trust those servers in Olive Garden to wash their hands and change cutting boards prior to handling my food. And then I am just SCARED! My friends tell me I am paranoid and that if I ask people in the restaurants to be careful, they will be.. But really how can I attend a business lunch and risk getting sick half an hour later?! Now my husband wants to book a family cruise for Christmas... That just sounds so great and we can get all our extended family together and enjoy ... but, can I risk it? My kids have food allergies, and we did vacation with them, thank God without problems, but with my celiac disease on top of it, is it even possible? I feel like I am ruining everyone's life...

I am sorry that my post is so pessimistic... I hope that one day I will be able to offer some support and guidance to someone as well...

May God bless you all!

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I can't eat food from restaurants at the moment. I have tried, but even at very considerate places, where other celiac family members can eat fine, I am too sensitive not to get sick, every time. I've even reacted to water a couple times at one - it seems that the soap they used on their dishes got me. :o

At the moment, here's what I do:

I order a drink - bottled, if possible - so that I am having SOMETHING at the restaurant. Sometimes I'll just let someone else drink it, though. Then I bring a little bento box with me and eat my own food. Most of the time, the restaurants are accommodating if I approach it a certain way. I sometimes call ahead of time, sometimes talk to the restaurant as we walk in. I let them know I am extremely sensitive to multiple allergens, to that point that I am unable to eat their food, but that my party would still like to have their meal there, so I am hoping to bring my own food so that we can patronize their restaurant. Usually, the fact that they will get more business, even if one person isn't eating there, makes it fine with them.

This way, I can eat, my family and friends can eat, and we can still enjoy the social activity, you know? If I can plan ahead, so I can make my meal a little special, it doesn't feel like I am getting second class food while everyone else is getting something 'special.'

Yes, I still feel a bit different, but the more matter-of-fact I am about this, the less of an issue it becomes for the people around me, I've noticed. Some never seem to adapt to my standing out (like, say, my mother in law, heh), but most of the time, it's been a positive experience. I tend to just say I react to allergens - which I do, I just don't react allergically - because it's easier than a huge, long explanation, you know?

When it comes to the questions about trying food - yeah, that can be hard. I just smile and shake my head and try to get by. If I can make myself a dessert - or two or three - that helps, LOL.

Re: CC - uh, yeah, you're pretty much exactly right. I've had very honest managers at Olive Garden tell me outright that if I am very sensitive to gluten, they don't have anything that I could eat safely, because the risk of CC was too great. You friends are, I'm sure, well-meaning and want you to feel better. But I know how frustrating and upsetting that can be to hear your fears essentially dismissed like that. My hubby said that at first, and then I'd start reacting, so now he doesn't say it anymore. My friends don't say it at all, because the first time I tried to eat at a restaurant with them and actually order food I got so visibly ill while we were there that they all know how bad it is.

Not that I'd recommend going that route to change anyone's minds, obviously! Frankly, I get scared too. It's easy to be casual about all this when someone is not the one who is going to get sick from it. It's a whole different ball game when some invisible speck can make you sick as a dog. A really good demonstration, if you want to show your friends how it feels to be you?

Make a meat dish and two salads, that you have to touch with your hands. Then show the salads and mention that you're not sure if you remembered to wash your hands before touching the salad, after handling the raw meat.

See how many of them are willing to eat the salads.

And let them know that this is about how it feels to be a celiac, with the knowledge that one tiny slip up like that, where you can't see any difference in the food, is enough to make you really sick. That knowledge completely changes how you look at food.

What cruise line are you going on? You might want to check out reviews on line. I've heard very, very good things about disney cruises, with huge lists of allergies in a family. I've heard some bad things about some of the others. I believe a number of cruise lines have been commented upon on this forum, actually.

Hope that helps, and sorry things are feeling bad! I'm feeling a little in that place right now, with Thanksgiving coming up. I will be going to someone else's house, with me and BOTH my kids eating gluten free for the holiday. This is the first time it will be all three of us, and I know a few of the people there are in that 'you're just being paranoid' category, so I'm not looking forward to having to cope with them.

Here's wishing that you and I both can have a good, healthy holiday! :)


T.H.

Gluten free since August 10, 2009.
21 years with undiagnosed Celiac Disease

23 years with undiagnosed sulfite sensitivity

25 years with undiagnosed mast cell activation disorder (MCAD) 

 

Daughter: celiac and MCAD positive

Son: gluten intolerant
Father, brother: celiac positive

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Ooooh! The raw meat analogy is fabulous. Thank you for that. I've been fortunate in having fairly understanding friends and co-workers but am dreading Christmas. -_-

One thing to keep in mind about restaurants is that you might not always be so sensitive. As your gut heals your sensitivity should decrease, provided there are no secondary infections or parasites to deal with. :)

It gives me some hope at least. :)


Grain Free

Casein Free

Soy Free

Refined Sugar Free

Preservative Free

Free Range

Free Willy

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose...

...dang...there goes chocolate... :bawl:

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You cannot let this disease destroy your life and make you a hermit!! I eat out a lot, like several days per week and I only get glutened once in awhile and I'm VERY sensitive. Many places have gluten free menus now and then you tell them "I am very sensitive please be extra careful with my meal" and they will be.

Mom and Pop type places can be great because they give individual attention to the customer. If you have a bad vibe or they look at you funny then obviously don't eat there.

At parties there is always something you can eat. I know that CC is a risk, but odds are people in their homes are cooking clean (well the people I hang out with anyway.) LOL I eat from the veggie platter or have some salad with no dressing. If it's a friend I know well I will call ahead of time and ask some questions. People want you to be okay and they will do what they can to take care of you. I NEVER ask a host to make special accomodations at a party, although I would for a sit down dinner.

Don't pretend to eat and be embarrassed. You have a chance to educate people when they ask about why you eat the way you do and almost every time there is someone at the party or gathering who says "I think I have celiac. Can you tell me more?" and we end up having a long talk and I empower them with information and maybe save them some more years of suffering.

Yeah it sucks to get glutened. I got glutened yesterday and was miserable last night, but it doesn't happen that often and having a normal life is worth the small risk.


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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I don't know about the other food at Olive Garden, but the pasta comes frozen. The worst problem we've had is croutons on the salad after we said we didn't want them. Once they brought a salad with just one crouton. It probably fell in there. But they acted all snooty when we said we couldn't just pick it out.

We dine at a few select places. Olive Garden is one. The Old Spaghetti Factory is another. We also dine at a few local places, a couple of which are Mexican restaurants that cater to people with food allergies. We get to know the owners. It works for us.

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To be fair, I was already a hermit before going gluten-free, so it isn't that big of a stretch for me now. :lol: I feel safest in my little Cancerian shell. :ph34r:

But then again with this brain fog lifted I also feel like being more social while at the same time finding that I'm terrified to touch anything in a gluten filled house/restaurant. :huh: It seems like a cruel cruel irony doesn't it?

Someone is laughing somewhere...

@#%#*% Cosmos... <_<


Grain Free

Casein Free

Soy Free

Refined Sugar Free

Preservative Free

Free Range

Free Willy

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose...

...dang...there goes chocolate... :bawl:

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Truth is you won't know whether YOU can eat out until you try. I was discouraged with my first try, which was at a place without a gluten free menu. And so I didn't try to eat out again for a while. I've learned that for me personally, I can't eat at a place unless then have a gluten free menu and well trained staff. Since my first big fail I have only had a handful of mistakes. Most of them were at places that were super busy and/or the server clearly had no clue what I meant when I said gluten free. I've had many more successful repeat experiences at a few places in my area that I trust. If you are needing to eat out for business a lot, perhaps you should try these places on your own first. When you first go in, ask to talk to the manager or the chef, don't just talk to the server. Explain your needs in detail to them and ask how they handle cross-contamination risk. Most places with a gluten free menu will be able to tell you whether they wash things, avoid using the same sufaces, have dedicated friers, etc. Once you find a few places that you can go to it makes it easier to deal with eating out. Nothing is ever 100%, but you can take precautions by talking to the manager and going to places you trust frequently so they get to know you and get experience preparing safe gluten free food on a regular basis.


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

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I agree with Sandsurfgirl- you can't let the disease destroy your life. I've only been dx'd for 3 months and yeah, it is depressing, but there are ways to still lead a normal social life. I was on vacation all last week and ate out every night and had no issues. 3 of the 7 places had a dedicated gluten-free menu, the other places didn't and the servers were all very accommodating.

Sit down dinners at a family/friend's house I think is probably the going to be the most difficult, but I did go to a dinner party Saturday and my friend ordered takeout and it was all gluten-free, I was planning to bring my own food, but she wanted to just have the entire meal be gluten-free. The only thing I couldn't eat was the cake for dessert, but she also served fruit, so it worked out good! I don't need the extra calories anyway! LOL

The one thing I miss at parties is the cheese/crackers. What I do is bring a ziplock bag of rice crackers and glutino pretzels and just eat the cheese that is served. I also eat a lot of the veggies. I do miss the really good apps that are passed around at a lot of parties, but honestly those are all so fattening and have so many calories it is better that I can't eat them. At least I can still eat shrimp cocktail!

Cross contamination is real, but if you live your life in fear of it, this will destroy your social life.


Positive TTG IGA blood test 8/13/10

Endoscopy confirmed 8/31/10

Started gluten-free diet 9/1/10

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Last night, despite my gluten-free, dairy-free diet, I ate out at an Italian restaurant. I had to for work. It wouldn't have been my choice of restaurant at all!

Can you believe that? A REAL ITALIAN RESTAURANT. Not a chain like Olive Garden - this is a scratch kitchen (they cook everything from scratch) and they have gluten-free rice pasta on hand for those with food allergies. Even though it was a special group dinner with a fixed menu, they made sure I had my own pasta water, my own grilled chicken, my own marinara sauce ... it was wonderful. I ate that food twice and didn't get sick. Their menu is basically all flour and dairy, so they must have been super-careful with my food.

I did call ahead to warn them, but when I was trying to feel them out they reassured me repeatedly that it'd be fine and they knew how to take care of someone with Celiac and dairy intolerance. They totally lived up to that expectation, and I just finished emailing the boss of the restaurant manager (who's the person I spoke with on the phone and then again in person when I arrived at the restaurant) so I could get him some recognition officially. It was the easiest experience and the food was delicious.

It can work.

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I don't have time to post everything, but cruise ships (Royal Carribean, Princess, Celebrity) are all supposed to be pretty helpful. Check the Travel forum here at glutenfreeforum.com for hints and ideas. I went on cruises before gluten-free, but read that you can be ok, but you won't be able to eat much at the buffet and instead will need to go to the dining hall for most meals.

Good luck! I think you'll get the hang of it soon.


Diagnosed by biopsy 2/12/07. Negative blood tests. Gluten-free (except for accidents) since 2/15/07. DQ2.5 (HLA DQA1*05:DQB1*0201)

Son, age 18, previously delayed growth 3rd percentile weight, 25th percentile height (5'3" at age 15). Negative blood work. Endoscopy declined. Enterolab positive 3/12/08. Gene results: HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 1 0201 HLA-DQB1 Molecular analysis, Allele 2 0503 Serologic equivalent: HLA-DQ 2,1(Subtype 2,5) Went gluten-free, casein-free 3/15/08. Now 6'2" (Over six feet!) and doing great.

"Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance." Abigail Adams (1744-1818) 2nd First Lady of the United States

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I'm crazy sensitive and never ate out much anyway, but I've found success most of the time if I follow a few rules.

1) Eat at 11:00 or 2-4:30. The restaraunt is slower and the chef and waitstaff will have time to think about what they are doing instead of accidentally falling into autopilot.

2) Eat at any restaraunt who has a Chef (not just a cook). Ask the chef to cook your meal. It is OK to have him/her come to your table before you order.

3) I've had success with Carrabas, Outback, and Macaroni Grill. I'm longing to try PF Changs and Bonefish grill.

4) Tell the waitstaff you have severe allergies. I ask them to wash their hands before getting my water and request no lemon. When I ask them to wash their hands, I give a brief explaination that I would get very sick from from their hands touching the next table's bread and then my water glass.

5) I ALWAYS ask to have my meat cooked in a clean pan with clean utensils. The one time I got sick at an Outback, I broke most of these rules including forgetting to ask them to cook it in a clean pan. I suspect it was the grill during the dinner rush that got me sick.

6) I skip the salad. When I waited tables, we were responsible for making the salads, and there was quite a bit of room for cross contamination even if crutons were not placed on my salad. Who cares about the salad anyway.

7) At Outback, order the chocolate brownie dessert!

8) I also always let the waitress know that I'm nervous about eating out and would love to find a restaraunt I feel safe at. I figure if I'm honest about why I've got a neurotic look on my face he/she will be more understanding about me doing what I have to do to be safe. I also tip well and get the server's and cook's names so that if it is a success, I can request them in the future.

If I've followed all of these rules, I've been safe 90% of the time.

When I go to social events that are at mid priced places with cooks or during the dinner/lunch rush, I take my own food. I've never had a problem with the establishment or with my dinner companions. I keep hearing about these bento boxes. I must google and learn what they are.

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Hi,

I'm not going to be much of a morale boost for you. I feel with your sentiments. And I was just reading somewhere on this forum about the proper way to clean a skillet that has been cc'ed (and whose has not?): put it in an oven and set the self-cleaner going. If that is the proper way to clean a simple skillet, imagine the measures restaurants and even just regular people with celiac disease are not taking.

The best I can say is that eventually you learn the hang of it, I'm told. I'm not there yet myself, but I have faith that I will be.

--Plumbago


Diagnosed with Celiac in 2010. Diagnosed with sleep apnea 2018.

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Last night, despite my gluten-free, dairy-free diet, I ate out at an Italian restaurant. I had to for work. It wouldn't have been my choice of restaurant at all!

Can you believe that? A REAL ITALIAN RESTAURANT. Not a chain like Olive Garden - this is a scratch kitchen (they cook everything from scratch) and they have gluten-free rice pasta on hand for those with food allergies. Even though it was a special group dinner with a fixed menu, they made sure I had my own pasta water, my own grilled chicken, my own marinara sauce ... it was wonderful. I ate that food twice and didn't get sick. Their menu is basically all flour and dairy, so they must have been super-careful with my food.

I did call ahead to warn them, but when I was trying to feel them out they reassured me repeatedly that it'd be fine and they knew how to take care of someone with Celiac and dairy intolerance. They totally lived up to that expectation, and I just finished emailing the boss of the restaurant manager (who's the person I spoke with on the phone and then again in person when I arrived at the restaurant) so I could get him some recognition officially. It was the easiest experience and the food was delicious.

It can work.

Where in the world do you live???


Diagnosed with Celiac in 2010. Diagnosed with sleep apnea 2018.

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I keep my explanation brief and I always use the word ALLERGY. Intolerance, celiac and autoimmune disorder have no impact on the waiter's behavior. The word allergy does.

I say something like this. "I am allergic to gluten. It's called celiac. Gluten is wheat, barley and rye. Can you please send the manager over to help me figure out what I can eat?" The manager almost always at least has some knowledge. I also say "I'm very sensitive and even crumbs get me sick. Can you ask them to be extra careful by cleaning the grill and changing their gloves?"

I eat out many days per week and have only been glutened a handful of times in the past 11 months like I've said before.

Personally I would not ask the waiter to wash their hands before they get my water. They aren't touching the rim of the glass where you drink. You can drink from a straw and well... you're making a bigger pain of yourself than is necessary which in turn hurts the rest of us. Sorry, not trying to be harsh, but it's how I feel. Unless you have a true allergy and will get anaphylaxis and die, don't drive the waiter crazy.


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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I keep my explanation brief and I always use the word ALLERGY. Intolerance, celiac and autoimmune disorder have no impact on the waiter's behavior. The word allergy does.

...

Personally I would not ask the waiter to wash their hands before they get my water. They aren't touching the rim of the glass where you drink. You can drink from a straw and well... you're making a bigger pain of yourself than is necessary which in turn hurts the rest of us. Sorry, not trying to be harsh, but it's how I feel. Unless you have a true allergy and will get anaphylaxis and die, don't drive the waiter crazy.

Agreed. I just finished writing a letter to the district manager of the company that owns the restaurant that treated me really well despite having to make up menu items for me. If someone does treat you well, remember to get them the recognition they deserve and lots of positive feedback so that they know they did well and will do well again later.

People always remember to complain but rarely remember to praise, so my goal is to be the opposite. If we can all try for that, maybe people would start to get better about serving us and treating our food carefully.

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