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Rachel85

Awkward Meals Out

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So my friends are planning a catch up this weekend as we haven't seen each other for a few weeks (we usually see each other every day at uni) and they want to go out for a meal. I've been gluten-free since December and so far have only been for meals out with my boyfriend, which has been difficult enough as it is. My friends aren't as understanding as I'd like them to be about Coeliac, they think I'm over exaggerating most of the time. So this weekend they've planned to either go to a chinese restaurant or to Pizza Express (there's no possibility of going anywhere else). Both places I know that I pretty much can't eat anything (and if there is anything I can eat, I don't like it and refuse to pay out money for a dish just because I can eat it).

I'm not sure what to do really. My friends have suggested I come along anyway and just don't eat anything. Which would be fine, if I wasn't desperately craving everything they're going to eat, and am struggling with the whole gluten-free diet a little at the moment. So sitting there watching tuck into delicious pizza or deep fried chilli beef isn't my idea of a fun Saturday night!! What do you guys do in this situation?

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I would eat a big, satisfying meal before I went, and make sure I had a great dessert waiting for me when I got home. Then I would go and enjoy my friends. And I would trust that over time and with a little education, these people would realize you are not "over exaggerating".

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oh this is tough. I second the above post. Make sure you eat your most favorite yummiest, delectable meal you can think of beforehand. whatever you want. And dessert waiting is key. I am so so sorry that your friends are not more supportive at the moment.

I've wrestled with the whole eating out question before and my answer often varies. Sometimes I am cool with just going and hanging out because the food doesn't really appeal to me for whatever reason. other times I honestly just don't go if I can't eat comfortably (I never tell them that), but then make it a point to meet some other way later, or reschedule around a restaurant that I can go to.

Hope you have a great time!!

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True friends would take your illness seriously... Can you meet them after for drinks?Or be running late! Smelling pizza & things like that would kill me to just sit & watch them eat & then you open yourself up to not so nice comments... For me this would be like taking a drug addict to the pharmacy , putting all the drugs on the counter & say don't touch....You will be sitting yourself up for cheating...After all we are human just gluten free.....

True friends would one to include you & make sure you are safe....

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I would meet up with them for drinks after dinner.

Now, after almost a year gluten free, I don't mind watching other people eat delicious food. I would not have been able to do that just a few months of being gluten-free.

Cara

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I had a similar situation recently. A friend that I don't see often invited me to lunch. There was nowhere close to her that I could eat so she told me to bring my own food and we'd sit outside of the restaurant. So I did. However, all the smells coming from the restaurant were like torture! Then she invited me to a "cookie party" she was throwing the following weekend. When I told her it might be hard for me to come to a party whose sole purpose is to enjoy food that I can't eat she got mad. She told me I was being stupid and that "it's just food. Get over it." She then proceeded to lecture me about how she gives up her favorite foods every year for lent. Hardly the same thing! I explained that this was difficult for me and that she was being insensitive. I haven't seen her since.

I would do what is easiest and most comfortable for you. I learned the hard way that true friends really do understand, and others...well, they don't.

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I would (and have, as this isn't a hypothetical situation for me at all) eat a good meal before hand, and go. Order a tasty, "treat yourself" beverage. (I never order beverages, but this is the time I'll pony up for a thai iced tea, or a raspberry lemonade, or a virgin daq if it's the right place ;) ). Bring a snack for the ride home. And enjoy the company.

(Here's a secret about going and not eating - you have more time to talk and more time to listen. As in, more time to actually socialize and catch up with your friends. Honestly, it can be surprising what you miss out on when there is food to divert your attention.)

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I suppose I have a different opinion than most here and it probably won't be popular. I'm pretty new to this myself and over the last few years have lost most of my friends. My best friend is very understanding and if we go out we plan a place where I can at least get something even if it isn't a whole meal. If anyone else insisted that we meet somewhere that I can't eat anything but had to watch them eat some of my favorite foods I simply wouldn't go. If they don't take your illness seriously, once you get there you can count on them pressuring you to eat something you desperately want to but shouldn't eat. I suppose I'm lucky that there are dozens of local restaurants I can go to and not everyone has the luxury of having so many so close but (imo) if your "friends" cared about you they'd make some sort of effort other than telling you you're exaggerating.

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Bring your own food. I eat out a lot either socially or on business trips. I always bring my own food (in case there is not anything on menu that is safe)

When the server asks for your order just quietly say "I have severe food allergies so I have my own food to eat" I will usually order a beverage. 90% of the time the server even brings me a plate to put my own food on even though I have never asked. I have never been questioned or told no you cant do that about having my own food or snacks. I just don't make a big deal about it and pull it out when others have been served. I always make sure i leave the server a tip specfically from me . For example, if you go to the pizza place, make up some pizza ahead of time , wrap in foil , put in a small insulated lunch bag and you are set to enjoy the time with your friends. I find it too hard to go and just watch others eat. Much easier to participate with having safe foods with me. The outing then becomes about the people not about the location or food

When your friends say "oh it to bad you can't have this deep fried onion tower dripping in dressing" (or whatever)... I usually just respond with a "yeah me too, but my hips are really appreciating all the calories I am saving." and it gets a laugh, then I change the conversation.

Enjoy your time with your friends!

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If it was the pizza place I wouldn't go. If I breathe in flour dust I get sick and every time I have tried to sit and chat in a pizza place, I got sick even though I didn't eat. As time goes on, I'm less inclined to want to accomodate others, and am more interested in accomodating myself so I can stay safe. But I also don't want to be anti-social. Of course, if they already think you are exaggerating, they won't understand the part about breathing in flour dust. I have friends like that too. :(

I used to try to explain Celiac, or gluten or CC issues to restaurant servers, but it is too complicated and I don't think most of them "get" it even if they offer gluten free food. I have not yet taken my own food to a restuarant while others eat, but I liked the post by Lesx2 and I hope to get there some day.

Even with friends I have stopped explaining what I can and cannot eat. If they try to understand, then they want to be nice and bake you a gluten free cake or something and in the end I'm not going to eat it anyway, so I just like to be the girl who never eats in public.

My favorite line that solved all my problems is,

I won't be eating thank you.

This works great if I go to someone's house or in a restaurant when it is my turn to order.

Once the sentence is out...the issue is over and we can move on to conversation..like Tarnalberry said, you can get a lot more real socializing done without the food issue.

Servers never ask me why I'm not eating and neither does anyone else.

Oh yeah!

And there is a great big fat gluten free chocolate Udi's muffin waiting for me at home!

Good luck, as you can see, the issue can be handled many ways. :)

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One comment about bringing your own food. I have had problems in the past where restaurants (several different ones) have *not* let me bring my own food. They say it's a liability or some weird thing. I don't understand really. And believe you me, it's awful to be stuck in *that* situation. One restaurant did allow me to bring my own food but they made me sign a release form. this makes NO sense, but I was happy to sign. I'm just saying - if you want to bring your own food, check the place out to see how you think it might go.

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I would totally go! Of course I don't have much of a problem watching other people eat (I mean, I'm sitting in McDonald's, where my husband works, bumming off their WiFi right now and I'm starving!).

Have they offered to try finding a restaurant that offers something you can eat? I don't know your preferences, but I'm sure you could do a salad (even if it's really plain) so that you can enjoy a "meal" with them.

I'm super new to this, but I have decided not to let it stop me! I also don't like people making exceptions for me, or doing anything special to accomodate me. I haven't been out since my diagnosis due to being broke (and must I be honest, I have my husband and one friend...), but I desperately hope to do so soon! And if I must, I will carry snacks along with me!

Don't let it stop you...have fun!

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Thanks for all your responses, it's really great to hear about the ways everyone else deals with this. I sometimes feel like I'm torn between not wanting people to make a fuss and treat me like I'm different, but at the same time wanting them to understand and appreciate it can be quite difficult at times. I guess as time goes on these things will become easier to deal with.

I think I'm going to go. But following the advice of many of you I'm going to eat a yummy meal before I go. I'm going to make my own pizza with all my favourite toppings and enjoy every last bite of it. I'm looking forward to it already :)

When your friends say "oh it to bad you can't have this deep fried onion tower dripping in dressing" (or whatever)... I usually just respond with a "yeah me too, but my hips are really appreciating all the calories I am saving." and it gets a laugh, then I change the conversation.

I love this, I'm definitely going to use this in future!!

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I have the same problem and am still at a place where it's painful to see everyone else eating all the foods I want and can't have. Also I don't have a medical diagnosis and people seem to think this is a whim of mine and it won't really hurt if I just have a little [fill in the blank]. The advice on this thread has been helpful though.

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Yay! I'm glad you've decided to go! You'll have to let us know how it goes. :>

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I also have gotten to the point where I'll just bring my own food to certain places. For example, I work in a hospital and the only thing I feel safe eating from their cafeteria are the hard boiled eggs and the packaged corn chips. So when we have lunch meetings or seminars and food is provided by the hospital catering I always bring my own.

The first event of this kind that I went to after I started at this hospital I made the mistake of asking the director of my department about gluten free. He then insisted that I talk to the director of food service. She said "oh no problem." So the lunch was caesar salads. My plate was plain lettuce. On a separate plate were cut up veggies, and there were three kinds of salad dressing. None of the dressings had a label on them, they were just in serving cruets. So my lunch was plain lettuce and raw veggies. Lovely.

The next time I just brought my own. The director kept after me about why I didn't talk to food service, about how he wanted me to have something to eat, and blah blah blah. I finally asked him why it bothered him so much when I had already said that it didn't bother me and I was happy to bring my own. (and that particular day I had leftover chicken parmesan, while the other people had that same old salad plate thing...and the room was freezing so my nice hot chicken seemed much more desirable to me. lol.)

Anyway...that's my long-winded way of saying that after more than a year gluten free I often just bring my own food and if it bothers other people then that's their problem. I've already said it doesn't bother me, so really they just need to stop talking about it. <_<

In the OP's case I think I would just order some nice fancy drink (as someone already suggested) and bring myself some sort of "appetizer" thing to eat with it (after calling the restaurant first, as someone else suggested).

Pizza places are especially difficult because everything just smells so yummy! :ph34r:

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