Nothing for Me, Thanks

its ok to say no

A rare Monday blog post. I’ll keep it short so you can get back to whatever it is you do on Monday mornings to help you forget that it’s Monday morning.

Celiac Rule: No one ever said “eating out” has to entail “eating”.

Case in point – My mom lives in a nursing home about 30 minutes from the Dude ranch. I don’t see her as much as I should…that’s on me. She can make it challenging at times…that’s on her. She’s in a tough stage. I need to do better. Enough said.

Anyway, I had one of those “celiac sucks” weekends where my stomach was just killing me. Perhaps too many cookies and cocktails Friday night…and I paid the price.

Yesterday, my brother and I headed over to the nursing home to take my mom out to brunch. We pick my mom up and took her to Restaurant A, a very nice place. She wonders why we are here and not at Restaurant B, where she had been before. A few moments of awkward silence later, we explained that we thought we’d try somewhere different. No biggie.

But I could tell it was a biggie. Sadly. I finally said to her “It’s not always about the what and the where, but about the who.”

And then it struck me that’s the same advice I frequently share on this blog. Get the focus off the food and put it on the people and you’ll be much happier.

It turns out the restaurant not only had a nice menu, but a five-star buffet as well. It had a carving station, omelette station, waffle station, bagels, ribs, chicken, salmon. Seriously, it had the works.

My brother got the buffet. My mom, still a tad perturbed we weren’t at Restaurant A, ordered off the menu.

The waitress asked me what I would like and I simply said “Nothing for me, thanks”.

I knew my body had to heal and I wasn’t about to take even the smallest risk.

We ended up having a nice time and believe it or not, NOT eating did not kill me.

It’s not always about the food folks.

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25 thoughts on “Nothing for Me, Thanks”

  1. First, I admire your fortitude, yet wonder what you would have done had you felt better? Order off the menu? Asked questions? Not eating when we don’t feel well is proper. But when we are hungry and everyone else is
    eating and we look at the buffet (or the menu) with hungry eyes, it isn’t easy to not eat. I have learned the hard way
    to never eat the eggs at a buffet unless the staff tells me they are fresh eggs, and not the stuff in the carton. We learn to ask specific questions and to insist the eggs be prepared in a clean pan and not on the grill top. We learn to endure the stares, the looks, the vibe– in order to get what we need. And above all, we learn to be polite in our requests and effusive with our thanks. Have a great Monday!

  2. I do this all the time.

    My friends made kind of a big deal about it for the first few times but they are getting better. I would much rather go to a place that everyone else wants to go than to have to pick the place every time because I have the ‘special requirements’.

  3. cookies? hopefull GF cookies.
    I so get this. I used to never do this,(not eat) because everyone else felt uncomfortable that I wasn’t eating.
    I heard that so many times, “Please eat something. I can’t eat if you’re not eating.” (insert whine from them)

    I now don’t give a #$!% I don’t want to be uncomfortable just to make them happy.
    So I certainly understand that life didn’t stop and you could still have a great time and feel good.

  4. How do you help family and friends to understand that not eating is ok? I’m newly diagnosed with celiac and have not gone out to eat at all yet. I’m dreading the first family birthday celebration (which happens to be for my birthday) and the very real possibility that I won’t be able to eat dinner with them. They’ll feel bad, which will make me feel bad, and the entire evening will end up being about how much it sucks that I got stuck with this disease. Definitely not how I want the evening to go. 🙁

    1. It’s definitely nerve-wracking in the beginning. You do get used to it…promise. As for your upcoming celebration, it’s YOUR birthday. Do what YOU are comfortable with. Maybe there is a great restaurant that can keep you safe. If not, perhaps you can eat ahead of time and just enjoy the cocktails. Or, don’t center the celebration around food. Do something that you’ll enjoy. It’s your day after all.

    2. You can always have some sort of packaged gluten free bar (or if time and forethought are available- make & pack an sandwich) slipped in a bag or pocket. Then order Ice T- no lemon cut on a breadboard. of course. Tell them you’d rather not be sick for a month & just eat what you know is going to work out.

    3. Think about ways you can change the situation to something you’re more comfortable with. Go to a fancy gelato or coffee bar instead of a restaurant. Offer to host a celebration in your house.

      It’s ok to not eat – I generally get fancy non-alcoholic cocktails and they are usually the talk of the table. Just tell the bartender to go nuts on something fun because its your birthday and see what they come up with. My last celebration ended up with me drinking these gorgeous purple and white drinks with plum and cream in them. I’m sure they were calorie bombs but I didn’t care because they were that tasty 🙂

  5. Dude – We went out this weekend for my first real restaurant dinner since being GF/V. It was a birthday dinner for a friend and 12 of us there. The waiter brought out the ceremonial bread after he took our drink orders and I literally grabbed my friend’s arm next to me and said, “Mommy, hold me!” Fortunately, she is understanding and on her own food journey and we got through it together. I haven’t had a lot of moments, but after getting through it… you are absolutely correct… it’s ok not to eat! Cheers, Holly (NC-GF)

  6. My husband is an awesome man. I had the same thing happen many times with people questioning me not eating at restaurants. It would make me terribly uncomfortable. It all changed thanks to my wonderful husband. One day he knew that my not eating was going to cause a scene and embarrass me. He asked if I wanted to play a game and see how it turned out. Not knowing what he had in mind other than looking out for me I agreed. When we got to the table and I was handed a menu he quickly took it out of my hands and handed it back to the waiter. He loudly declared that I had eaten my weekly allotment of food and was only allowed a glass or two of wine during the “meal” today. The waiter was dumbfounded but took the menu and handed me a wine list. The rest of the people with us started at us, but NO ONE said anything to me about not eating. During the meal every time anyone’s food got anywhere near me he loudly declared that it was not ok and moved it a safe distance away. The people we were with were all really embarrassed during the meal. By the end of the meal I was having a great time and we confessed to the group (and the waiter) that it was a game to move the embarrassment away from me and put it back on everyone else at the table so they could see how uncomfortable it feels to be constantly embarrassed and badgered during a meal about not eating. That worked. No one ever bothers me about not eating when we go out. And if they do we either tell that story or we re-enact it. It has an amazing effect on people and it made me appreciate my husband that much more.

  7. I get the Mom thing. It is hard. But, is harder for her. If she likes restaurant A, take her there. Some day, you will be very happy you did. As for eating out with others, I don’t do it. I just assure them that my not eating is more of a problem for them than it is for me. When I get the “I feel awful eating in front of you” line, I tell them “then don’t eat … join me in having some water.” No one has ever felt bad enough to take me up on it. All bark, no bite. Sure hope you feel better soon, GD. And you can make it up to your Mom soon. Mother’s Day is just around the corner 🙂

      1. Good for you! Now, if she becomes disappointed when you arrive at A, just smile, give her a big hug, and say “Love you, Mom” 🙂

  8. I’ve done this a million times. I check out the restaurant, see what they’re serving and then just don’t want to risk it. A couple bites of food isn’t work 3 or 4 days of pain. I recently went to a meeting held in an Italian restaurant. They told the person who set up the dinner they had a gluten free menu. When we go there that changed to “we can make gluten free pasta.” This tells me they have no idea what gluten free means. I didn’t eat.
    I want a shirt that says, “Please don’t feed the Celiac!”
    Great post, Gluten dude.

      1. I made one and put it on Amazon Merch. I can’t share it here, but if you go on Amazon and look for “please don’t feed the celiac” it will come up.

  9. Yes! I always love to get together with people and beg them to NOT pick a restaurant based on my needs. I gladly partake in the socializing and sometimes have myself a little “liquid lunch” and still have a great time! Always eat before you go, otherwise it’s easy to jump on the pity train when you see others indulge in great smelling grub!

  10. GD, you were totally right not to eat anything if you felt the risk wasn’t worth it.

    I went through almost the exact same scene just last night. Joined a few friends at a restaurant with GF options but just didn’t trust it. As the others ate, I nursed a bottle of New Grist through the whole meal, the only thing there I felt I could trust.

    Wouldn’t you know it, they mixed up one of the food orders. One friend was served something similar to, but not exactly what he ordered and was a half dozen mouthfuls into it before the waitstaff came out with the mea culpas and the right dish.

    Now what if I’d ordered one of their GF dishes (of unsure veracity to begin with) and they brought me something that wasn’t GF?

    For added irony, shortly before went to this place, one of my fellow diners remarked (referring to old world countries, one of which he was born in, where they rely more on things like rice as staple dietary items), “There’s like five billion people in the world who don’t eat gluten. It’s not a big deal.” And best of all, he’s a total beer snob, saying this to my face as he’s quaffing away while we’re in a microbrew pub that serves only barley beers — absolutely no wine, spirits or GF brews.

  11. I have to start by saying I envy the cookies if they weren’t GF ones. I’ve found that people are far more accepting (especially my Mum who has a friend with severe Celiac – the type of person who can’t even breathe the air if flour is around) when I explain my allergy – as in throat starts to close up, break out in hives ALLERGY (that people would voluntarily do this to themselves astounds me!!). I’m envious of the not eating too – my blood sugar prevents me from skipping meals. If people can’t handle you not eating, that’s their issue – don’t put yourself at risk or discomfort for someone else, it’s not worth it.

  12. I hate to be a Debbie downer, and it’s great to put things in a positive light and everything but what if you’re just really, really hungry? Like…CELIAC hungry. I guess maybe I’m still not absorbing my food that well so even if I’ve eaten recently, I can get REALLY hungry, REALLY fast. Am I the only one this happens to? And when I’m hungry and have to sit and watch the people I’m with chowing down on something that looks yummy that I can’t have, it’s hard to focus on THEM, all I can think about is FOOD. I try always having a Kind bar in my purse and what have you, but that doesn’t always cut it for me.
    Sorry, Gluten Dude, I don’t mean to harsh your positive message but this is a disease with physical symptoms that aren’t always easy to ignore. Maybe I’m a big baby, but for me it isn’t always about the people. Sometimes it’s about the food.

  13. I think the best way to survive this and enjoy yourself, if the proprietors will not let you bring your own food in, is to eat a nice big meal before you meet up with everyone. If you’re not hungry, you won’t be distracted by all of that food that is unsafe. I’m finally finding it a little easier since I’ve had a bit of a change of attitude. We always say that eating this way isn’t a choice, but it is. It is a choice of sustained health and happiness over 5 minutes of pleasure for the taste buds. And socializing is about socializing. I finally had this sink in this past weekend when we went out of town for a friend’s birthday party. I brought my own plate of food and drank sparkling water all night. And not once did I feel that I was missing out because I spent 5 hours catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a few years and that was more than satisfying. Attitude and planning ahead is the key – not saying I’m perfect at this but getting better. Good luck, my friends!

    1. PS – And I successfully kept it from being all about me. I briefly answered questions when asked, like “why can’t you just order salad?” And no, I didn’t smack anyone. I realize they just don’t understand and are trying to be helpful. I simply explained that cross-contamination is the issue and that was the end of it. Great weekend!

  14. Thanks for the great story! I have Non Celiac Gluten Intolerance and I’m still getting used to going out with family to unfamiliar restaurants. Thankfully, I’m usually happy with a salad and just go with that. The only time it was an issue was when my mother wanted the family to go to a hibachi restaurant for something. I made the mistake of saying during the planning process that I was just going to have a couple of drinks, but I wouldn’t be eating because I didn’t want to risk it. I told her that being out with family and enjoying the time together was more important to me than the food. You’d think I said the world was ending! It ended up being a big enough thing that I just stayed home while my brothers and my mother went out. I’ve learned that, in the future, I’m not going to say anything until I get to the restaurant.

    It’s still a learning process but I’m getting better!

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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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