How NOT to Treat a Celiac at a Restaurant

eating out as a celiac

What a bizarre and uncomfortable night out I had last Friday. Let me rephrase that. I had a great time with the people I was with, but as far as the celiac stuff is concerned? Total Twilight Zone.

Before the night started, Mrs. Dude and I took a nice walk down to our local wine shop and picked up a nice bottle for dinner. There is a beer store next door. Yes, a beer store. Pennsylvania has these weird, antiquated laws that beer can only be sold in cases from state-owned establishments. Don’t ask.

Anyway, we decided to stick our heads in and see if they had any decent gluten-free beer, specifically Glutenberg IPA. They said they had two gluten-free beers. Can you guess which ones? Yep. Omission Beer, which is not even gluten-free beer, and Red Bridge, which sucks.

When I asked if they could get Glutenberg, he laughed at the name of the beer. I walked out embarrassed to be gluten-free. And hence, the night proceeded.

We arrived at the restaurant (since it was 15 miles away, Mrs. Dude and I decided not to walk it 😉 ) and got seated right away. Now I have been to this restaurant a handful of times. They take their gluten-free seriously and even mark their gfree items on their menu with an asterisk. I’ve had no issues at any past visit.

Well, I take that back. Last time I was there, I took a picture of the menu and posted it on Facebook (because for some reason, that’s what we do nowadays.) Many readers correctly pointed out that one of their “gluten-free” items had wheat berries in it. I have no idea how I missed it (and no…I did not order it.) I called the restaurant the next day and they were apologetic and said they would fix it right away.

Back to last Friday. When the server first came over, I gave my usual spiel. I told her I have “severe” celiac disease and I will be leaning on her and the kitchen for help. So far…all good.

About three minutes later, another server came over and asked me if I wanted any “celiac bread”. Celiac bread? I mean…I knew what she meant, but it just sounded…odd.

I began to peruse the menu. The food at this joint is really, really good. A few of the salads were marked gluten-free. Here…take a look.

gluten free menu

If you were me, what would jump out at you as possibly being a concern? Honestly, a few things but the second salad is the one I wanted. I assumed the fried corn tortillas were either pre-made or done in a separate fryer. WRONG. They use the same fryer for all of their fried items. The chef said they “try” to do the corn tortillas first. I kindly informed them that the salad should not be labeled gluten-free. No response. For the record, I got the third salad and it was amazing.

For the entree, after asking my questions, here is what I ordered:
Pan Seared Bronzino Fillet, Roasted Eggplant Puree, White Beans, Chorizo, Artichoke Hearts, Red Pepper Buerre Blanc

The dish came out and I felt myself just staring at it silently. It just seemed to have a lot of “stuff” on it. Mrs. Dude noticed my hesitance and asked the server to come over. I kindly (there’s that word again) asked about the sauces on the dish. She said it was fine but if I felt better about things, she could bring the chef out. Very cool.

The chef came out and proceeded to inform me that the dish was fine…there was no flour in it. Now, I would LOVE to assume she knew gluten was more than just flour, but still…

At that point, the waitress said to me “See…you’re not going to die.” It was said half-sarcastically and half-sincerely, so I had no idea how to process it. I just knew that it made me ungodly uncomfortable.

I know what you’re asking now: “Well Dude, did you eat the dish?”

I did. I had been there enough times that, even though the night’s experience wasn’t a good one, I have not gotten sick there. The meal was spectacular and no, I did not get sick.

At the end of the meal, I thanked my server for looking out for me, as I always do. She then proceeded to tell me that they get so many gluten-free fad dieters nowadays who make a huge deal about their meals being gluten-free but then order the gluten-filled dessert, they just assumed I was one of them until I made it clear I was not.

Can you imagine that? Instead of assuming that I’m eating gluten-free because of a disease, it’s the exact opposite. And that’s why the gluten-free fad sucks. And that’s why restaurants are better off NOT offering gfree unless they are going to do it right. And that’s why so many celiacs continue to get sick when eating out.

By the way, I am not going to call out the restaurant publicly. Someone last night was familiar with the menu and said that restaurant used to call their meals celiac safe, but no more. Interesting.

But I will be forwarding this blog post to them.

What a night!

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59 thoughts on “How NOT to Treat a Celiac at a Restaurant”

  1. I got sick at PF Chang’s this weekend….after ordering off the gluten free menu, verifying with the server and then catching her mistake as she tried to hand me regular soy sauce.

    Sometimes you just can’t win no matter how hard you try!

  2. I’ve only known that I have celiac disease for two years and have had so many uncomfortable experiences like this that I can’t count them. I recently just stopped eating out because I don’t know which of my three (previously) trusted places glutened me, but I got really tired of having those knife in the guts nights.

    One place that was on my maybe list served us a “gluten free” dish with an errant macaroni noodle in it.

    The kitchens in restaurants have food flying everywhere. There’s no way to guarantee safe food unless you can see what they’re doing. One place in Austin had an open kitchen, separate prep area for GF items and different colored plates for the GF food. I felt pretty confident there, and was treated very well. But other places have been like the one you describe, and I’ve spent a few moments in restaurant lavatories weeping because I’ve felt so humiliated.

  3. Memphis has two 100% gluten free restaurants (except for beer). It is great not having to worry if someone is having an off day. the ability to eat out without any anxiety is awesome. One is very close to my work and i eat there several times a month.

    1. Heather, Is one of them Maui Brick Oven pizza? We went to the one in Maui and loved it (although we might have gone a little overboard getting things made in a GF fryer. Onion Rings? Yes! Fish and Chips? Yes! Fried Anything? Bring it!) Really hope they end up getting some franchises up and running.

      1. Where is this? We pass through Memphis sometimes, if we can get the freightliner close i will call ahead and race in for a togo order! Gf onion rings??? I dream of them

    2. I so wish we had places like that in Lafayette, LA! Over 400 restaurants in this town and I can only relatively safely eat at 5 and one of them is ice cream and then it’s still stressful ordering.

  4. Brigitte Desormeaux

    They wouldn’t treat someone with a peanut or shellfish allergy this way, so why is it ok for celiacs? Is there no one out there who can actually speak to these restaurateurs and chef’s and educate them?

    1. It’s “ok” for celiacs bc theirs is an autoimmune disorder and not an anaphylactic reaction. If gluten caused celiacs to swell up in hives, stop breathing, and possibly die on the spot restaurants would take them seriously bc customers dying in front of other customers as a result of the food is bad for business. But the nature of autoimmune disorders, i.e, the delay in response, the invisibility of the the longterm damage, allows for plausible deniability on the restaurant’s part. btw, when I said it’s “ok” I really meant it’s not ok even in the slightest.

        1. I wind up with severe hypoglycemic attacks about an hour after myself. Thankfully never passed out from one, but came close enough with being severely confused and unable to speak intelligibly or loud enough for my husband to catch that there was a major problem.

    2. Seriously, this is the fault of the restaurants not the people eating there. I am not diagnosed celiac. But I feel tons better without gluten. But, some days, I will be tempted by that chocolate dessert after eating gf dinner. And that is my prerogative. That does not mean they can serve me a gf dinner with contamination. Customers need to be given what they order. Period.

      1. I agree, Melissa. Fad or no fad, when you’re paying for a gluten-free meal, you should get a gluten-free meal. Period.

        If you choose to eat a gluten-free dessert, that is none of your server’s business. How dare they pass judgement on you for it. They advertised it as an option. You paid for it. You should get what you ordered without judgement or commentary. The logic here is that if I have hair, I don’t have the right to wear a wig. If I have hair and buy a wig, the shop owner will judge me harshly for wearing a wig when I actually have hair. Ludicrous.

        If a restaurant advertises a GF meal, the person ordering it deserves to get it – for ANY reason – an nobody should have to justify their reason for ordering! For the record, I have celiac disease and feel as though the “fad” folks have just as much a right to order a GF meal, without anyone from the restaurant passing judgement on them.

      2. Each time you choose to eat that chocolate cake you turn my visit into a nightmare. I have to explain that I actually have celiac. I am not a fad dieter like you. And then I have to pray that my message gets thru to everyone because yours may have just ruined my chances at actually getting a meal that is carefully prepared. If you want to play at being gluten free, do it at home where you are not creating serious life threatening issues for people who have NO CHOICE.

        1. Yes. Thank you for speaking up. I completely agree. I had to explain to a waiter once who gave me heck for stating that I have celiac disease. I looked at him and said, “I do not find you at all funny. Being gluten free is medically necessary for me and having my disease is very horrible. I find eating anywhere except my home to be very scary if people act like you. I could be unwell for up to 3 weeks with various problems. So please make doubly sure that where they grill my food is cleaned first.” He got very serious and apologized explaining that he’s been serving a lot of fad dieters lately who state GF but order things that have a touch of gluten on them OR order the said chocolate cake saying they like to ‘cheat’ a little because they have been good lately and he thought I was one of them. My mother who also has celiac disease ate a few bread rolls in front of me and the rest of the family this weekend (after I started eating my homemade food) and stated that she doesn’t mind getting sick and was gluten sick last night. This is just as bad as a fad dieter because this makes people think that we can “cheat” on our eating safety or that they do not have to be as careful with prepping our food. I guess she just has to get ‘sick enough’ for her to become more serious about her health.

  5. I ate fries from New York Fries last week and had a miserable couple of days. They are supposed to be gluten free but they do other food now and I think the young people who work there Don,t understand the danger of mixing food. Joan Clark

  6. I just don’t eat out because I can’t relax to enjoy it and it isn’t worth the weeks of agony when it isn’t done correctly. That said, the main mission of our little support group is to raise awareness with our community and have properly prepared (and handled) gluten-free items offered at events and such. We also plan to talk to the schools and mom-and-pop restaurants in town that already offer gluten free to make sure they understand the seriousness and how to do it properly.

    1. I agree. Sometimes my mom offers to stop at the ice cream place but I just don’t feel like explaining about the clean scooper and cross-contamination. I don’t want the eye rolls or the “can you repeat that please?”

  7. I recently went to a nice, white-tablecloth restaurant with some friends who were new to town. This restaurant has a gluten-free & vegan menu, so I was hoping it would be safe (I am vegan and have celiac). When the server was presenting the evening’s specials to the table, he kept happily offering variations to the traditional entrees (different sides, etc). I had not yet told him of my need for a completely gluten-free meal, but I had asked for the gluten-free & vegan menu, on which none of the offerings were both gluten-free and vegan. When ordering, I first told him I had celiac disease and could not have any gluten in my meal or in the preparation area. I also said I was lactose intolerant and could not have dairy. The only real entree choice for me on the GF & Vegan menu was a roasted vegetable plate with risotto. I asked if the risotto was dairy-free. He said no. I asked if they could make plain rice instead. He gave a very large sigh and rolled his eyes, and said he’d have to ask in the kitchen. Ten minutes later he came out and said the kitchen could do something, but didn’t specify. When he brought out the entrees, he only brought the entrees of the other three at the table and told me mine would be another minute. I told my companions to go ahead and eat while their food was hot. Ten minutes later, he came out with my dinner, which was roasted vegetables with sliced potatoes as the risotto substitute. It was fine, but I didn’t understand why it took 10 extra minutes, leaving me sitting at the table without food (I have done that enough going to restaurants where there was nothing I could eat.) I won’t be going back there.

  8. There is a dedicated gluten free food truck opening here in my town on Friday (we have 3 food truck courts in town, it’s all the rage)! I cannot wait to walk up to the window and order my meal and not have to explain my condition, without the funny looks or ridiculous comments or stupid questions. Oh to feel like a normal person again! I can’t wait!!!

    1. T^T I am so envious! There’s all sorts of food trucks in our town now and none of them are even remotely safe or with options.

  9. yes, this, 100%: “Instead of assuming that I’m eating gluten-free because of a disease, it’s the exact opposite. And that’s why the gluten-free fad sucks. And that’s why restaurants are better off NOT offering gfree unless they are going to do it right. And that’s why so many celiacs continue to get sick when eating out.”

  10. GD, I’m SO glad you didn’t get sick at that place that night, and I think it’s only because you looked out for yourself so well. Yes, I hate to feel like a whiner but I feel like the GF fad makes things way worse for us than better. Restaurant eating (as well as church potlucks and eating at friends’ homes who don’t know you well) is so much harder. “Celiac bread”….wouldn’t others love to have their food named after their disease? Have some Coronary Disease Burgers. How about Diabetes Cake? I was recently somewhere where they offered me the ‘gluten-friendly menu’………..aughgh! I’m SO not gluten friendly! Oh, and there’s the Gluten Menu, as well. Lovely. I’m ranty today because of an asthma flare, my other ‘invisible’ disease. Just frustrated and down. Thanks, GD.

    1. I laughed at your food names too.
      I have also come across a lot of “Gluten Friendly” menus. What an odd name. Obviously the person writing it and the one editing it has no idea what the hell they are talking about.
      How about High Gluten Flour in the Gluten-Free grocery section. Nothing like putting a bag of poison in the middle of everything else.

      1. One local store, which does have a great assortment of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free products, has one shelf which lines a number of them up, one after another, about 15 products wide, which is beautiful, except for the Vital Wheat Gluten smack in the middle. I don’t know if it was done as a (weird) joke, or just a matter of putting a bunch of gluten-related products together. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking something when I first saw it, though.

  11. I guess I never thought about telling a server I have “severe Celiac”. I know I should, but so few people even know what it is I use “severe gluten allergy”. I tried gluten intolerance, but that never worked. I eat out so little I just worry about protecting myself than educating, I guess. I feel lucky the few restaurants I go to take me seriously. I also stick with restaurants on the Find Me GF app because I can rely on others and how their experience was. I think here in the south we have less people who do the “fad”. Thankfully! But I do run into a lot looks when explaining anything. It makes me feel bad about asking.

  12. Well, Dude, really you did NOT walk the 15 miles……….

    “The chef said they “try” to do the corn tortillas first.” Do they clean out their fryer EVERY SINGLE NIGHT? I think NOT! It does not matter what is FIRST. Forget the cleaning out all those filtering parts and pipes and such.

    ““See…you’re not going to die.”” – I’d have already sent a nasty email to the owner, the better business bureau and anyone else I could think of. That server needs to be fired!

    I introduce myself, “I have Celiac disease. I almost died from it before doctor’s figured it out. I am most definitely NOT one of those FAD people. I have to do this the rest of my life. And it’s very important for me to get food that will not make me sick.” All with a smile and apology for needing so much attention.

    I also point out that I want the gluten UNFRIENDLY menu while I laugh and explain that friendly means one wants the friendly item. Gluten friendly is the WRONG thing to put. But maybe the real problem is that everyone wants to disavow themselves of any responsibility. They can’t actually say “gluten free” because they don’t bother to worry about cross contamination in their kitchens. Just because we don’t have or notice symptoms does NOT mean the meal was safe.

  13. GD – I would have walked out at the “you aren’t going to die.” I’m so glad you didn’t get sick. In the 6-7 months of my new nutrition protocol, we have only eaten out at a restaurant twice. One was by chance (we were out of town) and the other I researched to find a “friendly” restaurant. After listening to all y’all over the last few months, I changed my diddy to say, “I have severe health issues and we rarely eat out because of it. This is a special occasion for us and I will be asking a few questions about my meal options.” So far, a successful 2/2.

    I honestly can’t even imagine how there are so many restaurants who don’t take this seriously. If you don’t want to serve options, then don’t. We will go elsewhere and that is fine. Cater to “normal” folks. But don’t get squishy and “TRY” to accommodate.

    “DO OR NOT DO. THERE IS NO TRY.”

    1. This comment, all day. Every day.

      -honestly can’t even imagine how there are so many restaurants who don’t take this seriously. If you don’t want to serve options, then don’t. We will go elsewhere and that is fine. Cater to “normal” folks. But don’t get squishy and “TRY” to accommodate.

      “DO OR NOT DO. THERE IS NO TRY.”-

      I don’t even have to add anything to it, it’s so perfect for us.

      We all know the reason they ‘try’ and that reason is because of the fad dieters (being spurred on by books like Wheat Belly and the ravings of people like the Food Babe) and dollar dollar bills Y’all.

  14. How TO treat a Celiac.

    Today I got an email from the company that makes BirdsEye products, after I asked if a bag of their peas was GF. The reply said that runs on common lines only ran risky ingredients at the end of the weekly cycle and that an 8 hour clean phase followed over the weekend. After that the equipment was visually inspected and then swabbed with sophisticated equipment to check for residues. I’ve been safely eating their boxed frozen peas and corn for years.

    Now Dude et al, what are you really going to expect from the kitchens of a marginally surviving industry like the retail restaurants? If I could risk eating out, I’d surely be calling ahead to ask what the management was comfortable doing to accommodate my Fancy Fad needs. *

    *No flaming el Hefe please, food faddies.

  15. I’m very glad to hear you did not get sick. I have noticed that virtually every server I encounter in the Chicago area either asks me if I am allergic to gluten or tells me they mark the orders as having a gluten allergy. Has anyone else encountered this? I’m not sure if it is ignorance or if the systems used in restaurants for special diets use the term “allergy” so that’s what employees call it. Thoughts?

    1. I think it’s a combination of things. Importantly, most people understand that allergies, like peanut or shellfish allergies, can be very severe and require emergency treatment (epi pens, maybe evacuation from the restaurant to a hospital, etc.). So, even though most of us don’t react quite so immediately or dramatically, calling it an allergy may be the best bet to communicate a sense of seriousness to servers and other restaurant staff who may not be up to the concept of an autoimmune disorder and how it differs from an allergy. So potential lack of understanding is one thing.

      Another is efficiency in communication. Calling it an allergy is quick, and if it serves to keep us safe, efficient.

      In some ways gluten for celiacs is a little like arsenic for everybody– a very small dose can be tolerated, a little more can make us sick, and that same “little more” regularly over a period of time can make us very sick and lead to other problems like cancer. (The difference is that a single large dose isn’t fatal.) But I don’t think there’s any way to characterize gluten as poison that would improve on calling gluten problems an allergy.

      So I think we’re stuck with “allergy”, even though for celiac disease it’s inaccurate.

    2. I have noticed the same thing in both Phoenix and Portland. The word “allergy” triggers an “okay, we’ll be real careful and change gloves…” response, so I use it all the time.

      As Dick L. comments, I suspect its because they understand allergies better than an odd disease like Celiac.

  16. We went out to a nice restaurant for our anniversary last month.
    I asked for the gluten free menu, which I asked about prior to making reservations.
    After going over the menus (I always keep the regular one too, the descriptions are usually better) I had a few questions, namely the disclaimer on the bottom, in very tiny font.
    “Because we are not a dedicated kitchen, products may come into contact with gluten. If you have an actual allergy, please speak with the manager prior to ordering.”
    IF YOU HAVE AN ACTUAL ALLERGY.
    These damn menus are designed FOR the fad.

    I spoke with the manager, things were OK once I made it clear that I would NOT be ordering anything with gluten. EVER.
    However, on the sides options in the gluten friendly menu – French Fries.
    Hmmmm, perhaps these are not actually GF?
    After asking the server and the manager – yes the fries are for the “fadders” and the baked potato (not on the gf menu) was actually gluten free.
    Once I spoke with the manager and they checked with the kitchen, I felt comfortable enough to enjoy our evening. But it is frustrating that they are catering to the fad and not the medical requirement.

      1. Seriously. The restaurants need to take it seriously. And let the non-Celiac get the gluten free that they are requesting as well.

    1. The only problem is that Celiac is NOT allergy. There was some idiot chef who believed it is allergy and purposely fed people gluten when they ordered gluten free. When the people did NOT end up sick while at his restaurant, he claimed gluten free is bogus. It is a pain in the tush. But we have to educate. Comparing it to allergy is a start! But auto immune does actual damage that is more like having someone stab you rather than an allergy where everyone expects a couple benadryl or a trip to the ER to make it all better.

      1. Your story of that chef really scares the heck out of me! I actually do have a severe reaction, a severe hypoglycemic attack, but they normally take an hour or more before they occur. They’ve gotten worse every time there’s a slip. I’m just scared of the first time I ever wind up passing out from it, which can be fatal.

  17. I got the exasperated look and semi-eye roll from a waitress just yesterday. I was trying to be extremely sensitive to the fact that serving me is more difficult and I always leave decent tips….so I hated being made to feel like I was “one of those” kind of customers. She really didn’t get it. I am not a fad dieter and I try to explain that but the uneducated don’t seem able to differentiate between the two. What happened to good ol’ customer service?? I’m being respectful…why can’t you???

  18. Ui. Isn’t it EXHAUSTING?!?
    I’m fortunate that we have a fabulous GF bakery here in Sacramento, just around the corner from me, nd quite a few restaurants that have serious and thorough GF practices – served with respect. – 🙂
    Very sadly, our GF grocery store is closing down after 7 years.

    Last spring I was performing in a show at one of our Regional Theatre companies, and I went to lunch with some of the cast. One of our put of town (NY) actors was with us, and he moonlights as a server in NYC. When I asked the server a few questions about the menu and for GF soy sauce with my sushi, he said, “I can see from the questions you are asking that you are a real celiac – but it is so hard to be patient and take it seriously with all of the fad GF people who (same old story) will demand GF food and then order something they want and brush it off when told it is not GF!!”

    HUGE. SIGH. He is a darling, and later, after spending seven weeks with me (actor et a lot of meals together during the rehearsal and performance process), he learned a lots about how to treat people who order gf.

    So – this may sound a little like preachin’ to the choir – but it’s actually a few tips fro people trying to figure out how to educate people in a way they will hear. (GD- you have probably covered most of ’em… :} )
    A couple of things I share with skeptics, or people who just don’t understand it yet:

    The “Statistic” of 1% of the US population being “actually” gluten intolerant or celiac? Came from that one stupid article trying to “debunk” non-celiac gluten intolerant people… and that one ridiculous “study’ it cites, of a very tiny amount of people.
    Even at that, IF it were true:
    1% of the US population? As of this moment – 32,171,060. Thirty-Two Million People. That’s a LOTTA people needing safe food.

    I also tell ’em, “Odds are very high that if someone is a Fad GF dieter? They are going to last about a week, maybe two, because they just can’t give up bread and pie. SO guess how many of the gf people be out there are going to be fake? Not a lot!”

    Then I tell them how sick you have to make yourself gluten-loading for a biopsy… no, thank you. Many will opt for self-elimination test… if you feel better, you’re going to take it seriously, usually..
    AND about how often one can test false negative.

    I won my actor friend over, and I think/hope some of my other friends… I’m willing to bet Zak no longer has an eye-rolling attitude when he serves celiac customers in NYC – in fact, I think he kind of prides himself on knowing how to help us out, now. 🙂
    And I tend to be taken seriously, now.
    One more thing – you wouldn’t believe how many people LOVE to work hard to make gluten free dish you can have some of at a potluck, or make you a GF meal… friends can be pretty lovely.

    Cheers, Gluten Dude, et. al!

  19. Whenever I tell someone new that I am on a Gluten Free diet they automatically assume I am on the Fad diet. I find myself having to explain and sometimes defend why I can’t eat it.
    I love the, can’t you just take a pill or something response.

  20. Gluten Dude, come visit Boulder, CO and blog about our restaurant scene. You and Mrs Dude can stay in our guest room! We have several 100% GF restaurants, the New Planet brewery tap room, and when you ask a waiter if a menu item is GF, they answer ” well are you celiac? Because the ingredients are gluten free, but the corm patties are fried in a shared fryer” I am very grateful to live in such a supportive community.

  21. Where I work in MN, there is a PizzaRev on my way home. Their pizzas are amazing! I walked in about 15 minutes before closing one day, and ordered. They did great with using a separate ladle for the sauce, changing gloves, etc. It was looking perfect until the girl put it in the brick oven. After she put my pizza on the pan and into the oven, she decided to start cleaning up the rest of the oven since it was closing time. She proceeded to take a stiff broom/metal scraper to brush off/scrape off the crumbs in the oven. She was brushing the oven immediately behind, next to, and in front of my pizza. Do you think it was GF anymore??? I don’t think so! I was so tired, frustrated with my day, and just wanted to get home, so I didn’t say anything and took it home and gave it to my mom to eat (she’s not Celiac).
    She called them for me (even though I’m 22, I hate confrontations like this), and they asked for me to bring it in the next day. They were very kind about it and said that the girl is new and young and doesn’t understand Celiac. They gave me a new pizza and a “free pizza” coupon for the next time.
    I will continue to go there because I haven’t had any other problems there, but it’s evident that people without any experience with Celiac don’t take it seriously because of the “fad-ers”. It makes me worried every time I go out to eat and can’t see my food being made in front of me (like PizzaRev and Chipotle). I hope the fad-ers go out of style and restaurants start taking us seriously again. I don’t like anxious eating or waiting nervously for the next day to see if I feel ok or not.

  22. I told a waiter the other night that I had celiac disease and said I’m not just being gluten-free just because…he said oh your trendy and I said I don’t want to be!!

  23. Hi Gluten Dude! I just ran across your site last night and I’m so glad I did! I just wish I had found it much sooner. I am NCGS, actually I believe I have a FODMAP intolerance. But regardless, I avoid gluten like the plague. Your restaurant story rings many familiar bells, but the weirdest, and most uncomfortable, dining experience for me thus far was when we were in Belize (cruise ship stop) at a restaurant and I spoke with the waitress and had at least a little level of comfort that what I had selected would be okay, or so I thought. A while later, when orders placed had still not been received, the waitress came out and told our party that their kitchen was broken. ? Interesting how it didn’t look like they were telling any of the other customers this. Pretty sure they decided it was easier to get rid of me than have to accommodate (?) my dietary needs. It was embarrassing that our whole party had to find another restaurant just because of ME. After two more attempts, I thought we were good to go, only for my fish tacos to come out breaded/fried (oh, but on corn tortillas). The whole experience left me bitter. And gee, my family wonders why I can be so hesitant about traveling and/or trying a new restaurant. Off to read more of your posts! 🙂

  24. Hi Gluten Dude,

    I was just recently diagnosed with Celiac after experiencing symptoms my whole life. I am a senior in college, and am finding it sort of difficult to keep my disease under control. Not because I think the diet is hard, but because I feel I’m accidentally getting glutened all the time! I’m very aware of the disease and am also very fond of restrictive diets (my sister was diagnosed with Chron’s Disease when she was 11 years old and was on the Specific Carbohydrate diet for 5 years before switching to Remicade infusions), so a gluten-free diet is not so hard for me! However, I am finding it difficult while being in college because my friends are constantly inviting me out to restaurants, bars, and parties. I am very strict with my diet and have not had any gluten (that I know of) since I was diagnosed in June, and although I always make sure to order off the gluten free menu or stick to gluten free alcoholic beverages when I am out with friends, I always somehow feel I’m being glutened in some way. I have been feeling a lot better than I was before I started the gluten free diet, I just don’t feel 100% and am still experiencing some minor symptoms every now and then. So I guess my question is do you think that I’m being glutened at restaurants/bars, or do you think I’m still experiencing some symptoms because I’m not totally healed yet? Or could it be that I am also allergic to something else? Let me know what you think!

  25. In my experience, both may be happening. I have plenty of correlative evidence to show that I have been glutened while eating gluten free food at restaurants. In one case, after the correlation became obvious, I spoke to the manager and was told that “we are only gluten friendly, not gluten free” and that only one of the dishes on the “gluten free” menu was safe from contamination.

    I have not been back.

    So, sadly, my advice is not to trust “gluten free” food at a restaurant unless you have taken the trouble to determine that they know how to avoid contamination, and actually do so. *Always” tell them you have Celiac Disease or an “allergy.” A lot of restaurants react to “allergy” better than Celiac DIsease, because “allergy” makes them think you will choke and die right at the restaurant, and they don’t want that ,or they are ignorant of Celiac DIsease. Figure out which restaurants are good about this, and try to steer your group to them. And, even if your are drinking truly gluten free drinks, keep in mind that too much booze and your judgement will be bad enough that you won’t be careful about GF.

    I understand that this is hard, and socially, it is really hard. I do it, and I hate it, but I have to do so. When I travel, I tend to eat almost nothing prepared at a restaurant. I took a two week road trip in the midwest earlier this year, and lost 14 pounds because of my dietary restriction – which for me was good. Good luck finding GF in rural Texas!

  26. In my experience, both may be happening. I have plenty of correlative evidence to show that I have been glutened while eating gluten free food at restaurants. In one case, after the correlation became obvious, I spoke to the manager and was told that “we are only gluten friendly, not gluten free” and that only one of the dishes on the “gluten free” menu was safe from contamination.

    I have not been back.

    So, sadly, my advice is not to trust “gluten free” food at a restaurant unless you have taken the trouble to determine that they know how to avoid contamination, and actually do so. *Always” tell them you have Celiac Disease or an “allergy.” A lot of restaurants react to “allergy” better than Celiac DIsease, because “allergy” makes them think you will choke and die right at the restaurant, and they don’t want that ,or they are ignorant of Celiac DIsease. Figure out which restaurants are good about this, and try to steer your group to them. And, even if your are drinking truly gluten free drinks, keep in mind that too much booze and your judgement will be bad enough that you won’t be careful about GF.

    I understand that this is hard, and socially, it is really hard. I do it, and I hate it, but I have to do so. When I travel, I tend to eat almost nothing prepared at a restaurant. I took a two week road trip in the midwest earlier this year, and lost 14 pounds because of my dietary restriction – which for me was good. Good luck finding GF in rural Texas!

    [this might be a duplicate. when I posted it before, there was a long delay, and the comment didn’t show. So, here goes again]

  27. I was diagnosed with CD on 9/8/16 after biopsy results and have been gluten free (mostly) since. Initially I was afraid to eat out so I did some research and found a few restaurants in the Sacramento area that served gluten free and had received good reviews from others with CD. I have eaten 3 times at Eric’s Cafe (sandwiches and soups) where they have a separate work station and have had someone come in and train their staff. The food and service were great and most importantly, I didn’t get gluted. I recently tried the nearest PF Changs in spite of mixed reviews overall for the chain. My waiter was great and I didn’t get gluted, but more interesting, after getting the menu and discussing food prep a lady was seated at the table next to me who requested a GF menu, too. Turns out she has CD (only the second person I’ve met with CD so far) and we had a very nice chat. The nice experience made me realize how isolated I feel having CD, but good to know that eating out is still possible. Next on my list is a completely gluten free bakery. I’m getting giddy just thinking about it.

    My thanks to this site for helping to educate me about CD and a place to rant.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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