Wow…check out the following email I received yesterday.
It is honest, sad and scary all wrapped into one.
It is from a long-time restaurant server who spent years not taking celiac disease seriously for her customers.
She is now being tested for celiac disease.
Here is her confession.
This is my apology.
I am sorry. I am very very sorry.
Until I recently began the roller coaster ride of medical testing in an attempt to discover if I have Celiac disease, I had no idea. I didn’t know about cross contamination. I didn’t know that a small amount of gluten could hurt someone for so long.
I worked for many years as a server and I had no idea. I worked in many different restaurants, in many different kitchens with many different chefs, and still I had no idea.
I thought I understood what it meant if a customer told me they had Celiac disease.
If a nut or other allergy was mentioned, I went out of my way to make sure the meal was delivered as safely as possible. But I never received any training about Celiac disease.
I can vividly recall a plate of gluten free pasta being served up – head chef plates it, generous helping of sauce. And the sous-chef, without thinking, adds fresh garlic bread to the side of the plate.
I pick it up, whisk the garlic bread off and deliver the plate to the customer.
What happened to that poor person?? This never would have happened with shellfish or nuts in the case of an allergy.
And so for this I apologize. I don’t know how to make it better.
How many servers are out there simply whisking garlic bread off the plate? How many crumbs are falling into our meals?
I’m still trying to discover what exactly my relationship with gluten needs to be, but in the process I’m discovering a community. They help me in the grocery store and reading their stories here are helping me too.
Thanks Gluten Dude!
And sorry everyone.
This is not about karma. She did not have this disease “coming to her”.
This is about the ignorance of the restaurant industry.
It’s about the continued harm the pseudo gluten-free crowd is causing us.
It’s about Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus and Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga all contributing to the over-exposure of gluten-free.
Hell…I’m sick of hearing about it.
And lastly, it’s about somebody coming to grips with her past and her future.
Life sure is funny…
88 thoughts on “Confessions of a Waitress”
Holy Shnit Dude! That is deep!!! Really deep! This pisses me off so bad…I just can’t write anymore at this point!
I am amazed by her honesty and moved.
We all know afterwards when our servers or the chefs have made errors or just did not care, but to have someone acknowledge it feels good.
I wish her the best of luck in her journey to find good health living with celiac. Perhaps having her experience in the food industry could make her a strong advocate for the rest of us.
Thank you for your apology. Apology accepted.
All you can do now is just help spread the word about the seriousness of Celiac’s disease. By doing that, you are repenting. 🙂
Best wishes for a speedy path towards diagnosis and a healthy life.
Man, this is why I only go to a select few restaurants. I don’t think most wait staff (or the waitress in this case) are deliberately sabotaging people with gluten issues, but ti’s clear that many just don’t get it and haven’t been properly trained – and the fad dieters and the people who will eat ‘just a little gluten’ don’t help our case any. Scary.
And it’s why I never, ever go to chain restaurants staffed by teenagers. Nothing against teens…I used to be one.
u can’t blame her. Unless the person tells her exactly what Celiac is, they would never know. We just need to explain it better to them.
Yep…the responsibility falls on the chefs and/or restaurants owners…100%.
I never say I have Celiac disease, I say I cannot have gluten.
This reminds me of a fairly recent experience of mine at a popular chain restaurant.
I asked my waiter for a GF menu and he brought me one
I ordered from the GF menu, reiterating my gluten issues
He brought me what I ordered – but with a big piece of garlic bread on top
I explained to him I cannot eat that because it has gluten in it
His response? “Honestly, I don’t even know what gluten is.” I was flabbergasted. I said “If you don’t know what something is PLEASE ask because this is very serious. You really should be educated on the various dietary issues and gluten is a big one.” He sent his manager over to talk to me and his manager rolled his eyes when I told him what occurred and said the server should know what gluten is. I said YOU need to educate your entire staff about gluten. Ugh, the conversation progressed from there, but that is the gist of it.
No excuse. None. And, really, apology or none – this pisses me off. I can’t help but think this person is only sorry because it is now affecting her own life.
She’s only sorry now because she only now understand the seriousness of what she didn’t understand before.
Dear Repentant Waitress,
They say confession is good for the soul. I hope this gives you some peace of mind.
The only time I get very ill now– is when I place my trust in the chef and the waitstaff handling my food.
So you see, it really does matter. That little bit of cc (cross contamination) is a very big deal to us. It’s poison to me–even in small doses.
I am set back for weeks, I have horrific pain in my joints, nerves and muscles and my hair falls out. In celiac, the autoimmune response lasts for months inside our bodies.
This celiac forgives you! 🙂
Hell, I did not know what celiac was until I got deathly ill with it either.
Your anonymous apology is more than I ever got from the medical community who failed me.
So thank you….. good luck with your testing and I hope you live a long, happy and healthy life.
Really want to make amends?
Learn about Celiac and pay it forward…. by educating others.
Agree, agree, agree!!
Beautifully said Irish…as usual.
This is why I always tell restaurant people I have a “wheat allergy”, because people take the word “allergy” seriously. Then, if THEY say the word gluten (and it has happened a few times recently), then I will tell them that it’s Celiac Disease. Symantics doesn’t matter to me; as long as I’m being taken seriously.
I’m with ya Julie! As a former waitress (only for 6 months a million years ago) I know the emphasis that is placed on allergies in the training of wait staff. Also like you, I educate when/if the person is interested. Some people don’t think this is an appropriate approach but, if it keeps me safe and leads to awareness, then I’m in!
Aw. Thanks for the apology. Upon diagnosis, I bought the scariest looking dining card I could find. It’s bright red and it even says allergen warning. Unfortunately, I have been told that I can’t be served at a restaurant because of it, but I’d much rather be told no than leave there vomiting. More than once, when handing this card to the waiter and asking it go to the chef, the manager comes out to talk to me. I tell any celiac that I meet that this card is pretty effective. I’ve still been glutened, but less often than I was before I stumbled across it. I do think it’s up to us to explain and educate.
I bought those cards when I was first diagnosed. Never used them. I felt stupid. My own insecurities I’m sure.
I have those cards in various languages for foreign countries, but I figure in this country, I speak English pretty well and they sure seem to understand me when I place my order, yet I have been hit anyway.
hmmm…. I suppose we could all wear tees shirts with big red letters saying:
“I can’t have gluten and if you give it to me, I’ll barf on your shoes.
Nod if you understand”
bwa ha ha. See. I will barf in their shoes… I think that’s more fun. J/K
Irish can I please get this t-shirts L light blue or kelly green in english, spanish & french?? I figure in one of those languages they can understand napalm in your restroom!!
you mean something like
“Warning! Please do not serve me gluten or this will occur…..!”
(and there would be a pic like this:)
Toxic & this? Ya know, cover all bases
That’ll do it 🙂
I used a card when I went to Poland and they were amazing. They made a lot of effort to make sure I cold eat in the restaurants including making a dessert that wasn’t on their menu. Dealing with restaurants in English speaking restaurants is not always easy. Edinburgh was the most difficult place I went to.
Meh. I think it’s always “to each his own”. My sister refuses to use them for the same reasons. I’m a … um… passionate person (aka annoying) about things. I travel a shit ton for work and when I first found out, I didn’t know what to do. So, when I found something to advocate for me without the whole speech, I was overjoyed. And in people’s eyes severe allergy = akin to peanut allergy. People don’t get “Celiac” as well as they get “allergic”
Now, with failure to heal, I’ve quit eating out altogether and just find a store. Maybe, I’ll feel comfortable trying later, but for now, nope. In all honesty, I’ve been too scared after the last dr. visit a couple of weeks ago.
Lately, though, I’ve been travelling by car which makes it tons easier to find food. I have to go to Salt Lake City again at the beginning of the year, which means I’ll be sans vehicle. We’ll see how that goes.
Funny thing about feeling stupid…you can feel stupid for 5 minutes while you explain your needs to a server OR you can feel stupid bed ridden, bones aching, gut churning & fire down below for a week. Added frosting is feeling stupid for not asking what is in the amazing glaze that tastes so good! I will pull my little red card out every time & know I at least tried to eat safe.
Unfortunately we don’t all know when it has happened to us. That’s another misconception about this disease. I am a Silent Celiac and have no way of knowing that I’ve been glutened and therefore miss the bright lights telling me never to go to that restaurant again (or eat that food again).
Thank you to this person for her honesty. It just further reminds me to give my whole “speech” when I do eat out.
I have always said if only gluten glowed green, like Kryptonite, we’d be all set.
Apology is gratefully accepted. She can now go and educate the public! At least she did laugh at anyone about being celiac. In Barcelona a waiter laughed at no gluten. Of course I had already been glutened some where else in Barcelona. At that point I was just sick. It was a very long flight home….
Oops that should be – did not laugh
Been poisoned so many times when our so usually opt for steak and salad with no dressing. I’ve asked to read things and had the wait staff say ‘oh, I know this isn’t gluten free as it has milk in it’ ye gads. Once they give me the look of 00 gluten???? I just order a drink of bottled water. I’d take bpa poisoning over the month of Coeliac poisoning any day. I used to waitress and roll my eyes at people with food intolerances but would be very very very careful regardless. I did wonder why they didn’t eat at home though lol. I shouldn’t laugh as
I ended up with a yukky one but I sometimes try to make myself feel better that it’s not a peanut allergy.
I forgive you waitress as I’ve been you and unless you know, you don’t know. Like most things in life I guess. Xxxx
Happy Wednesday everyone x
I have used the foreign language cards to great success in Italy. I don’t have too many worries about going there for holidays – they seem to have very good awareness.
However, in Britain, even when you say it’s an allergy they don’t always take it seriously (unless it is a nut allergy). I went to Pizza Express a couple of times shortly after I was diagnosed and after long conversations with the waiter and specifically requesting no bread sticks – they still come out on the side of my plate. I’ve complained and they take it back. However, they’ve returned the same dish and haven’t even bothered to wipe it – there was obviously flour all round the edges of the plate. I don’t eat there anymore.
On the other hand, I went to the Hard Rock Cafe in London the other day and although the kitchen and wait staff clearly didn’t have much idea about gluten, they did have the good sense to send the manager out. He was very helpful, he actually listened, and I had no after-effects.
In most cases the waiters aren’t to blame – they simply don’t understand. I’ve had many that believe there is gluten in cream. I don’t particularly mind explaining, but I do wish they’d ask rather than pretending they know. I also think that restaurants should be compelled to provide training for their staff. Probably, waiters should have to take food hygiene certificates (not just people directly handling food) and this should include a component on special dietary requirements.
“I do wish they’d ask rather than pretending they know.”
AAAAAH! I feel that way about my mother-in-law. Over the Thanksgiving weekend she kept saying, I’m going to make a gluten free dinner. All of the family was at her house. I was watching her prepare gluten free lasagna with the children in the kitchen eating club crackers and “helping” grandma. My hubs was standing there while she was cooking mouthing “don’t eat it”. I declined dinner. I ticked her off and later she griped out my hubs about how we don’t trust her. Well, historically, she’s poisoned me a bunch. If she’d just ask instead of pretending she knows, then I’d know that she understood cross contamination, that she needs to make my gf first, that I won’t eat it if it says gluten free and it’s been manufactured on equipment that processes wheat, that gluten even hides in bacon, etc. etc.
All right. Off that soapbox now.
While I share your frustration about the cc issues and those who “mean well”, I assure you, with all of my heart…there is no gluten in bacon.
repeat: NO GLUTEN IN BACON.
Hon, so sorry, but I have to say this …and you may get miffed at me, and so be it, but you are not being the educator. Do not “assume” anything.
You need to make the meal WITH her.
You say “if she’d just ask!”…well, she was trying at least (which is more than most in-laws do) , but she does not understand CC (a difficult concept even for celiacs) so, why not just educate her?
This is our role. To advocate on our own behalf and enlighten the people in our families —-so the rest of our lives is not fraught with anger.
Sweets, don’t be passive and angry and let it happen (and have nothing to eat). 🙂
You can oversee the whole prep process with a flexible cutting board
and take the opportunity to school her a bit.
No helpful gluteny hands–now, that’s a mistake.!
. …Just you and her in the kitchen. It may help bond you two. I have done it many times with friends and family…and it works out just fine. I promise you.
No offense taken. I have tried to educate my MIL. She just goes on pretending she’s “in the know” and doesn’t need help. I would LOVE to make the meal with her. Pessimistically, I doubt it’ll happen. When we talk of cross contamination, it’s. “Uh huh, uh huh” in one ear…
And wait! There’s no gluten in bacon? The only type I buy is black label because I was under the impression that the seasonings they use for deli cut bacon could have gluten in it?
?? confused….What bacon has seasonings??
Eat Applegate Farms, Oscar Meyer, bacon from a butcher…etc.
Natural flavor, natural flavoring, and flavoring may be derived from gluten-containing grains. BUT unless you see the words wheat, barley, rye, or malt on the label of food product containing natural flavor, the natural flavor probably does not contain protein from these sources.
Wheat is sometimes used as an ingredient to help the seasonings not stick together (an anti-caking agent). Wheat has to be declared on the ingredient label if it has been used. Otherwise, if all ingredients are gluten free, then the seasoning is gluten free.
The GF status of flavorings and extracts is discussed by Tricia Thompson, RD, the Gluten-Free Dietician.
Time for everyone to stop fearing food.
Glad to hear bacon is good because 2 minutes ago it was YUM on grilled turkey, bacon, swiss on Udis. (Side note the new soft & yummy still needs toasting!!)
Beef jerkey have had to watch ESPECIALLY teriaki flavor with soy sauce base.
Hey…just thinking- the USDA doesn’t have to label allergens, do they? I admit I’ve been leary of meats and chicken unless it says its gluten free.
USDA Food labeling laws require that companies label foods with the top 8 major food allergens.
These eight, and any ingredient that contains protein derived from one or more of them, are designated as “major food allergens” by the FALCPA, which was passed by Congress in 2004 and became effective in 2006″.
THEY ARE REQUIRED TO LABEL WHEAT, okay?
HOWEVER, they are Not required to label “gluten” . Gluten is not considered “an allergen”. Because it’s not an allergy.
That means NO company is required to label barley, malt, rye or any derivatives.
For example, I saw a package of Swiss chocolate the other day and there was no “CONTAINS GLUTEN” warning on the package —because that is not required.
There was no “CONTAINS WHEAT label either. Why? Because there is no wheat in it.
But while reading the label, I saw “barley malt”. Now, that is GLUTEN.
Good thing I can read labels, because if I were only looking for the “CONTAINS WHEAT” thing, I would have eaten it and died a slow death.
There is no law saying the companies must label anything “Gluten Free”, hon.
This is something companies do voluntarily. The “gluten free” labeling law has been held up for years. We still wait for it to pass!
Meat and poultry is generally gluten free, unless they have been marinated in soy sauce or something else has been added. Just buy plain meat, chicken, bacon, pork, lamb, etc. and you will be fine.
Yes! Thank you sooo much! I have been wondering this about USDA. You are very informed and I am thankful for seeing your post.
Now, I wonder about chicken that’s been in a 15% broth or something like that. I remember reading that one particular brand contained either wheat or barley, however can’t remember which one it was, now. Do you think giant eagle or wal mart chicken is safe if it says that about the broth and nothing about containing wheat? I’ve been eating it, but I think I’m mostly silent celiac and my body wouldn’t tell me anyway.
Hon, if it contains wheat, they have to label it.
If you are worried, contact the company. They will tell you.
I realize this is an old post, but for those who might be reading all the comments, I thought I’d clear up a misconception here. LaiLa71 is asking about the USDA regulations regarding MEAT, not allergens.
The USDA labeling requirements are quite different from the FDA labeling requirements. Meat falls under control of the USDA, and not the FDA. The USDA requires all grain proteins used in meat products to be listed on the label, so meat manufacturers “must” list barley if barley is in there. Any broth or saline solutions injected into the meat will be gluten free unless barley is listed in the ingredients.
The USDA law is more tricky when it comes to mixed products like soups and stews with meat added. There has to be a certain percentage of meat in the product before it falls under USDA regulations, but I can’t remember what those percentages are.
I was diagnosed before the law was passed that the top allergens had to be on the label. It’s soooo much easier now to buy food. Back then I had to have lists of foods that the celiac community had put together after calling the companies about ingredients. Even then, sometimes the ingredients or formulas would change and we wouldn’t know it unless someone had communicated with the company and found it out.
Way, way, way easier now. I’m so grateful for that law and the internet for info. With so many people going gluten-free now it has put many more products and recipes out there for us to enjoy. I do, however, agree that it makes it harder for Celiacs and gluten intolerant people to be taken seriously when going gluten-free is viewed as a fad.
Per restaurants… I avoid them as much as possible. I used to travel a lot, once to Costa Rica, and I was so nervous about explaining gluten. I did have a card but found I almost did not need it in Costa Rica as they did not consume much bread or use much flour. It was mostly all fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and rice. I encountered no flour tortillas there, only corn. And I was thrilled that during part of our stay at a small all inclusive jungle lodge, every buffet dinner while I was there was gluten-free. I had contacted the owner ahead of time about my food needs and she happened to have a best friend with Celiac and was so understanding. I mean, who does that?
People who are responsive and understanding 😉
Amen, Gluten Dude, Amen! 🙂
I agree. It really pisses me off when someone says they’ll cook something for you gluten-free but then obviously doesn’t have a clue about the diet. On one hand, people are probably just thinking they’re being nice by doing us a favor. But if they truly don’t understand the complexities of the diet, I’d rather not eat what they cook and just risk getting in an argument with them.
For instance, one of my mom’s friends just offered to make cheesecake for me. She says it’s gluten-free, all I have to do is avoid the crust. Sorry, ain’t gonna happen. Just doesn’t cut it.
I’m also a silent Celiac so I don’t get sick when glutened. I used to eat out a lot more until my antibodies were still sky high and I was still feeling pretty unwell. Now I just wonder how many times I probably got glutened and was staying that way and not healing.
I try to do my research ahead of time and read reviews about particular restaurants if I need to go eat at one. Of course chains can be a hit-or-miss, but it a chain has overwhelmingly positive or negative reviews, that really influences my decision.
Yes, it’s not the fault of the waiters if they are not educated about the seriousness of Celiac Disease. However, they also need to treat us with respect and not be dismissive or condescending, like many food servers can be.
I hear you regarding the mother in law. She cooked a turkey dinner, put flour in the browning bag and told me that all I had to do was scrape of the flour!!!!! Talk about pissed. Unfortunately, after all these years…she STILL doesn’t get it. So I just bring my own food and KNOW I’m not getting poisoned!!!!!!!!
Well said IrishHeart and I love the shirt idea! You made me laugh! IGluten Dude, I’ve really enjoyed your straight forward blog! Best of luck to the former waitress. It’s not an easy road as we all know!
So good to “see you”!
G Ddude….look! —-another “crossover”!
HaHaHa 😉 IrishHeart! So, I found Gluten Dudes blog from a petition about Dr Drew. The person that started that, is a facebook friend of mine and is pretty awesome around here in Celiac awareness! !! Just saying!! Please sign!!!! I was happy to see your name pop up 😉 hey..I hope that cracker is gluten free! I thought I’d keep the same name I started out with..when I was so new to this!
Welcome Kip. Glad you found me. A pretty awesome community here.
I signed the other day–as did everyone I could reach.
Please tell her thanks for doing that! 😉
I was a server for a long time. I remember working at Chili’s and a lady told me she had celiac disease. I had never heard of it, so she gave me a laminated card explaining that she couldn’t have even a crumb of wheat touch her food. When I went back to the kitchen to grab her salad, I didn’t even notice the croutons on top (duh). She politely told me she needed a new salad, so I took it back to the kitchen. The cook tried to just take them off but I demanded a new salad (thankfully). I honestly had no clue! That’s why now, when I’m at a restaurant and the staff doesn’t seem to understand the seriousness of celiac disease, I choose not to risk it (most of the time).
So thank you for your apology, and I’d like to add mine to it if that’s ok. I’m sorry.
I worked in the restaurant business for many years as well. Mostly behind the bar, but still served food.
Oddly enough…the situation never arose for me about any kind of allergy. But I do wonder, being the snarky 20-something person I was, if I would have taken it as seriously as it needed to be taken. I’d like to think so.
Wow!! I didn’t know they did that in restuarants. I thought when you said you can’t have any gluten, they’d put a big sticker on your order and make sure everything is separate. I guess that’s the pretty picture I painted in my head. I need to start taking cards with me because whenever I get contaminated I always end up speculating what it could have been :(. And then the paranoia just kicks in.
It’s always fun being a celiac ;). lol.
But anyway, thanks for the sincere apology :). Good luck in your road to diagnosis and recovery.
I need quick advice..I’m going to a different Japanese restaurant Friday night for sushi to celebrate a birthday. They speak limited English at the restaurant..very authentic place. I have a Japanese gluten-free restaurant card printed out (no clue what it really says..could be insults for all I know), but want to have a safe sushi experience. I’m planning on taking my own soy sauce. What else would go into the sushi that may be a danger? They make it in front of you so I’ll be able to watch it while it is being prepared.Any tips are appreciated. This will be my first time eating sushi so I’m not even sure what the options are.
Hi Miss Dee. Here are my sushi tips:
1) A few places cook the sushi rice in a sauce with gluten to help keep it sticky. Make sure they only use vinegar or nothing.
2) Nothing with crab meat, as most sushi places use artificial crab meat which contains gluten.
3) Don’t order anything with eel, as it’s almost always cooked in a sauce with gluten.
4) I almost always order salmon/avocado rolls.
5) Drink lots of sake and have fun.
Thanks, Dude! I know you are a sushi aficianado and could count on good advice!:) No saki for me. I caught a bad cold that turned into a sinus infection, ear infection, and bronchitis. Finally gave in on Monday and started taking a high-powered antibiotic. We know those are never friendly to a touchy gut so I’m not going to insult it further with alcohol..LOL. It’s my daughter’s birthday and I wanted her to pick a place she truly wants to go rather than the usual “safe” places for me. She was so concerned about my health and I told her sushi was fine. (** hid the panic well..perhaps I have a future in acting if my day job falls through.) It’s her favorite restaurant and she is so excited that I am taking she and her husband there for a birthday celebration.. .
You’re good people Miss Dee. Have a great time.
This scares me a little. This was a woman who was well-meaning. She’d never intentionally hurt someone. What about the ones who roll their eyes at you? The ones who think you’re just being picky? What’s happening to your food then? 🙁
They’re out there Sarah. Truth is we risk it EVERY time we eat out.
After reading this blog post I was reminded of the time last spring when we took our kids to a local restaurant here in Austin, Texas. The restaurant, Hula Hut, claimed it now had a gluten free menu. It does, but it is so lame we could not stop laughing from disbelief. If you are going to assert the establishment serves gluten free food, offer some real food and not just plain lettuce with boiled shrimp or a hamburger without a bun (the meat cooked on the same grill as the buns no less — AKA NOT GLUTEN FREE). You try to get a 10 year old kid to eat plain lettuce with boiled shrimp. Hell, try to get an adult to eat it. But I digress. Our server was a gem, a really nice kid who clearly wanted to do the right thing. Unfortunately, he had to work with the slackers in the kitchen who obviously had not been trained on how to prepare GF food, which we have found to be the standard pretty much everywhere, including most places with GF menus. So the 10 year old’s GF salad arrived with croutons. When I told the server I’d hold on to the salad until he brought a new one without the croutons he said “You can’t keep that. You can’t have two salads.” When I told him I didn’t want it, I was just keeping it so he wouldn’t pull off the croutons and give it back thereby destroying the child’s guts for a full year — the look he gave me was priceless. Obviously, that’s exactly what he had intended to do and clearly had done in the past.
Good for you, Mama! You did the right thing–holding onto the salad.
If this ever happens again, you could also dump salad dressing on it . Call the waiter over, and then very earnestly –with a look of sheer sweetness — say, “O MY Gosh, I’m so sorry, but I can’t let him eat this–look, there are croutons on there! We ordered a salad without them.”.
If it comes back “wet”….well…you’ll know they picked those bad boys off there.
They have to give you a new salad —as you specified when you placed the order “NO croutons.”
This is no different than saying “medium rare” or “no onions” or “without cheese”. If they screw up the order, it’s on them to make it right.
That’s just good business in any restaurant and I do not think any restaurant manager would argue this point with any of us.
Ignorance is okay, I thought this was going to be a story about someone deliberately sabotaging food (I’ve heard stories).
And by okay, I mean its somehow more acceptable in my head than if someone was deliberately being evil. The lack of training kinda scares me although I’d admit to having whisked garlic bread off a plate and then eaten it myself.
I’m lucky though, I live in New Zealand and gluten free here is well-known. I tend to stick to places that have gluten free menus but we can get gf pizza from 2 chains and gf burgers from another 2 chains. I hope they train staff better here…..
My celiac 5 yo son gets glutened almost every time we eat out. It’s the waitstaff and the chefs. Hardly anyone understands what gluten free means. Like its a preference, like vegetarian. They don’t understand that you can’t use the same equipment, cutting boards, utensils, etc. They expect, as long as you don’t taste it, it is fine. We went out a lot this fall, due to family obligations. My is now anemic and losing weight.
I live in South Africa and its the same story here :(. The restuarants and wait staff aren’t trained and when you mention that you have celiac or a gluten intolerance they just look at you blankly.You have to go into detail and explain the items that you can’t have. Even when they serve the food, I repeatedly ask questions to make sure my food hasn’t been contaminated. Plus, most wait staff don’t even know what gluten is?!
A lot of restuarants do offer gluten free pizza but they make the pizza on the same surface and with the same utensils as normal pizza. Even the oven that they bake it in, they don’t even use a separate rack or tray. That’s why I’ve resorted to avoiding Italian restuarants in general because even when I don’t eat the pizza or pasta I still get sick so clearly there is tons of cross contamination.
Hopefully with more awareness chefs and wait staff will be educated and understand that gluten is as dangerous to a celiac as nuts to someone with a nut allergy. One day… :).
This is why we rarely eat out and if we do, well I bring snacks for our youngest two who are gluten-intolerant if not celiac. The one year old can’t explain the problem, but wheat makes her cranky and get eczema. My three year old was negative for the blood test, but we put her gluten free anyway and this past year she grew from size 18 months to a toddler 3. We used to love eating out and now it really kinda sucks, and this is exactly why. People are clueless and don’t want to admit it or think about it further.
That said we ate out last night, at a pizza/pasta buffet place that has gluten free pasta on request, and they haven’t had any ill effects, so we are definitely going there again. It was actually good pasta too, tasted better than some of the stuff we have at home. with that and the salad bar, they ate good last night and I didn’t have to cook it or clean it!
Thanks for the confession waitress, nice to know I’m not just paranoid about these things though my in-laws think otherwise….
I just wrote a blog post about educating restaurant servers on the importance of knowing allergies. I have worked in some places where some of the kitchen staff didn’t know what a gluten allergy was. It’s something that definitely needs to be taken more seriously in restaurants, and staff should know how to recommend menu items for guests with certain allergies by knowing what is in everything, if in doubt, ask.
I’m sorry to hear that this person may have developed Celiac disease, I hope the tests come back negative.
Thanks for sharing this story.
I’m in my mid 30s and have been a server off and on for years. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a diabetic mom who had special dietary needs, but I’ve always taken food allergies seriously. If someone asked about a menu item and I didn’t know, I never thought they were being a pain in the butt. I took it seriously and went and asked about that food item. I made sure that their meals came out properly. Now, before celiac, I wouldn’t have known that taking the bread off the plate wasn’t sufficient. However if my customer explained that to me in detail ahead of time, I’d relay it back to the kitchen and do my very best to make sure their dietary needs were accommodated. I had a family with an autistic son come into the bar I work at now the other day. They had all kinds of questions about the food and I was patient and answered every single question to the best of my ability. I don’t think the problem is servers and cooks not caring, they just don’t know what gluten and celiac are and how little it takes to make us sick. Maybe they should receive training, but ultimately I think we have to be the responsible party here. I think a lot of us don’t explain our needs well enough. If I’m eating out, I’m very specific about my needs. I say something along the lines of “I’m not trying to be a pain in your butt, but I have celiac so I cannot have anything with wheat, rye or barley. Even a crumb could make me really, really sick for weeks, so it’s really important that nothing with wheat rye or barley touches my food at any point.” That’s usually enough and I say it really nicely. I haven’t gotten that blank stare or eyeroll since I’ve started explaining it that way. Sometimes I even get servers who ask me more about the disease because they hear about gluten all the time but don’t really know what it is and why it’s bad. Then I proceed to order my food and tell them to hold any sauces. It doesn’t prevent cross contamination 100% of the time, but I don’t get glutened nearly as often as in the past.
How could you possibly justify blaming public ignorance on famous people for being “pseudo gluten-free”? Without them, I’m sure fewer people would even know what gluten IS. Plus, I’ll bet the amount of readily available gluten-free products has increased because more people are “pseudo gluten-free”. I agree that the food industry needs to be more educated, but goodness. Don’t put unwarranted blame on people who are actually doing significantly more good than harm to your cause.
The problem with the fad dieters is they say the need a gluten free meal, then the server sees them taking a bite of their date’s garlic bread because they can, and the server who knows nothing about Celiac disease does not know the difference between the true Celiac and the one who sneaks bread because they miss it. It is impossible to convince people of the seriousness of cross contamination when the ones who are spreading the word about gluten are doing it with false information as to what gluten free really means. People like those are the ones who make the rest of us literally sick.
I’m afraid not many of us celiacs are going to agree with you on this one, Marion. 🙂
I do not need celebrities claiming to be GF one minute and stuffing their faces with bagels the next one “championing” my cause.
And I certainly do not “need” more “possibly gluten free” products on the market. I just need to be taken seriously if I venture out to eat.
People who merely “dabble” in being GF are not taken seriously by anyone, especially waitstaff.
The “gluten free craze” causes more harm than good for a variety of reasons. I have had waiters tell me honestly–flat out —they think it’s all “bullshit”.(then I tell them why it isn’t–in my case–and they seem to understand it better)
People label us picky and trendy and annoying because they see these dabblers as “fad dieters”.
This leaves me, a celiac who truly needs to have her concerns about cross contamination taken seriously, vulnerable to the waiter (or
chef )who is tired and has had his fill of what he deems “the picky people” who take up too much of his time. His goal is to serve food fast and make tips..
You think he’s going to watch carefully how he handles my food order just because I smile and ask politely,” I have Celiac and I need to be gluten free, so please be extra careful okay?”….. Nope.
He only heard the buzz words “gluten-free” and stopped listening right then and there.
There’s a big difference between “over- exposure” and “awareness”.
I would much rather celebrities who aren’t doing it for medical reasons keep quiet about it. It’s much better educating a server or chef who doesn’t know over one who “thinks” they know and causes problems. I had one of those today. When I raised the problem to my waitress and mgr, they brought me a new cup & later came back and asked if everything was ok, then left saying “yay, for not dying!”…then still I found something in the new cup they brought me that didn’t belong there.
I agree there should be more education in the food industry about what is actually gluten-free and what isn’t, but a lot of you pity yourselves a bit much. There also seems to be a lot of the “us against them” mentality, and that will get you absolutely no sympathy.
Hi Maryl. Since you’re here, I assume you are a celiac? You could not be more wrong. We are not looking for sympathy whatsoever. Simple understanding of our disease, which is so misunderstood by the masses.
Mary it is so NOT about us vs them. I am in no way expecting anything more than a little understanding. If I was to go into anaphylactic shock b/c I ate something I could sue them right? But b/c my symptoms are internal and I throw up and feel excruciating pain inside my gut I’m supposed to just deal with it. SCREW THAT. Obviously you are someone that has no clue what it means to fight for their health and to be heard. I’m not asking for sympathy just people to get it and obviously you are the type that just doesn’t GET IT
I am so frustrated with people who have NO idea how serious a gluten allergy is. I try to give the analogy of a nut allergy and people literally say to me. Oh it can’t be that bad b/c I didn’t have this allergy before. What they don’t realize is you can get Celiacs or any food allergy years later or worse you could be suffering for YEARS (like I had been) before knowing what is wrong with you. I’ve had my own mother tell me that I’m over-reacting that there is no such thing as cross contamination and has even rolled her eyes at me. I tell her I can’t eat that and she says, just wipe it off (breaded chicken) and you’ll be fine. It is mean, hurtful and plain STUPID! I am afraid to go out to eat b/c of ignorance and stupidity. I recently went to a restaurant where I specifically went over once again how important it is that I only eat stuff that is gluten free and what does the waitress put on my plate COLESLAW, when I didn’t order it and told her I only want this, this and this. I said coleslaw has gluten in it and it isn’t on your gluten free menu for a reason. She goes what coleslaw doesn’t have flour I said it has wheat as a binder in the mayo and it isn’t on your gluten free menu so that says to me it might have it in the mayo. So now I can’t eat b/c who knows what dripped on the food and then think I’m difficult. NO ONE wants this horribly painful scary disease but we deal with it and we want to live our lives so a little understanding and education is all we ask. It is such BULLSHIT and let’s not even get into the doctors. I’ve been in PAIN excrutiating pain for 2 years and I’ve been accused of being a drug seeker, told I was depressed and that I should literally “walk it off”. After a lot of research and taking things out one by one I ME MYSELF & I figured out it was gluten. Since taking it out completely I have felt so much better (I see the light again) and now I have these idiot people who just tell me to get over it that it is no biggie. You know what I’m glad she finally realized how big a deal it is and I am truly sorry that she has this b/c I do not want it for anyone. Maybe just maybe the more we talk about it and the more we get the word out, people will realize this is not some “fad” but a serious medical condition. I absolutely accept your apology and I am feel for you, trust me I do. Good luck in your road to recovery.
ok i am also celiac and i also am a server and until six years ago i never heard the words gluten and worked in the resturant indestry for 15 years. now i hear it alot and the place i work now i would not even eat a salad out of the kitchen due to cross contamination. The problem i get all the time now is people that come in and say they are gluten free and when i tell them how unsafe it is they are like oh it is ok and i am like so you are just gluten intolerant and not celiac and they say no i am celiac but cooking on the same surface is ok. and i am like no it is not but if you are ok with it i will do as you ask. the i leave the cheese off there salad (cause our cheese is not safe) and they get mad and i explain why and they say no cheese is gluten free and i tell them yes most of them but ours is preshreded and has wheat in it. so my point to my rant is it is not just uneducated servers but also the celiacs that are not strict with there own health that are telling some servers the wrong info.
It’s nice to see someone in the restaurant industry stand up and admit she was wrong and apologize. However, every person working with food should be educated on EVERY type of food related allergens. Going out to eat for me has become a nightmare. The one really good story I have, my husband and I went out to a BBQ place – I figured BBQ is a safe choice for me, meat! Still, I asked the waitress tons of questions and when I mentioned I have to avoid gluten she immediately said “OH – then you shouldn’t use these sauces (pointing out 3 of the different sauces on the table)”. She was amazing and after our meal I made my husband wait while I found the manager to compliment my waitress and her for educating her staff. It was a wonderful experience that will definitely make me go back there.
I’m so thankful that I’m surrounded by family and friends who are super supportive and a husband who goes out of his way to help me.
I sympathize with her: I’ve had to rewrite several of the recipes in my gluten-free cooking blog after finding out that most beans are cross-contaminated. (Not Bush’s)
Then again, I spent an hour in an actually-really-good sushi place explaining to the wait staff that I can eat rice.
= 0 |
I was guilty of thinking that “true” celiac disease was very rare and all the people going gluten-free were just doing it to be trendy. Then I was diagnosed with celiac and had to educate myself about it, and I found out how wrong I was. The problem with all these celebrities “doing” gluten-free is that they give everyone the impression that it’s a fad diet, not a medical issue.
Maybe I am alone in this, but I just hate eating out because I don’t expect them to get it right. Ever. They don’t pay servers enough for them to understand and fully comply with all of the different intolerances. I have had doctors (with MEDICAL DEGREES) not fully understand intolerances. If it isn’t “celiac” then they say you can “eat all the bread and pasta you want”! Really?? How can we expect servers to be any better? If the restaurants don’t train them, then they don’t know. You can’t fault the server. You can fault the restaurant if they claim compliance, but even then, they cannot possibly prevent cc even if they train every server. They can be very careful, and if I do eat out I go to places where they seem to have some awareness of the situation (gluten-free menu for instance), but I don’t EXPECT them to get it 100% right all the time. Most of the time it is just easier to cook for myself.
Not just you
if its not saying gluten free on the label and it contains malt-o- dextrin it may contain gluten so stay away from malt in all forms. many things have these hidden forms of gluten and wheat is not listed on the label. so be careful all.
I love gluten free restraunts
I thought we all knew this happened all of the time. We can’t expect great things from an industry that barely pays people enough to live off of. Most people work as servers are not doing it because that is their life calling.
The only consolation is that if they poison a celiac with enough wheat there is a good chance that poor soul will defile their bathroom before they leave. Perhaps if we advertised a little more how explosively our bodies reject the stuff and how unpleasant it is to clean up after a celiac has had a major wheat issue we might get something going here!
I have a 16 year old son who works as a chef in a restaurant and even though nobody is in my family is celiac or even gluten free, I explained to him about celiac and how to avoid cross contamination. The number of times that he found people in the restaurant using the same fork for the gluten free people or frying things in the same oil as gluten containing items was crazy. He had to explain things so many times and people just don’t seem to get it. I don’t know why it is so difficult, any amount is potentially damaging if you are actually celiac and either a restaurant can deal with it or not. If a 16 year old kid can understand it, than, there is no reason that people cannot be educated in restaurants. One of his friends became celiac recently and he even had to explain to her that there is no safe amount of gluten and there are no exceptions.
we (or at least I) accept your apology.