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Just had a frustrating "gluten-free" experience

Discussion in 'Parents of Children with Type 1' started by Nancy in VA, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. Nancy in VA

    Nancy in VA Approved members

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    For a long time after Emma was diagnosed with celiac, we avoided the Japanese steak house - just too hard. But my husband has talked to them (I have trouble hearing mens voices with accents over the phone) and we thought all was fine. We've been a couple of times since then and the last time, even, they cooked all of Emma's food first and all was fine!

    We went today for my oldest's 18th birthday and it was a nightmare. We confirmed he had the GF soy sauce, but he didn't understand the cross contamination. He was putting all the food on the grill and using the same utensils! The first time we stopped him, he asked for new utensils and set them aside - but then went and started turning the shrimp with the same utensils, and then eventually picked up her chicken with the same fork. UGH! Then he kept telling me to stop yelling at him - he was just doing his job! I was yelling STOP because I kept trying to stop him from touching her food with the other utensils!

    UGH!

    So, finally they just said they'd cook hers in the back, which is fine, except it took another 30 minutes to get hers out there and ours was all done, the grill had been cleaned and shut down and we were about done cooking. Seriously, they could have turned our grill BACK on, brought her food out and cooked it on the new grill with new utensils for as long as it took for them to cook it in the kitchen!

    Hubby grabbed the manager at the end and explained again about cross-contamination with the grill and the utensils and the manager said he understood. Well, I told him it was clear that our chef at the table didn't understand that, since the time before, Emma's food was cooked first. The manager said that was the standard approach - cook all the GF food first. I told him it was clear that our chef didn't get that education and they needed to make sure he did.

    It was a shame because our chef was actually very animated and sang, etc, a lot. He honestly didn't need an audience because he was very self-entertaining. But the issue with the utensils, etc, ended up making the entire meal so stressful for all of us!

    My oldest said that we should bring our own GF Teriyaki next time and have them cook the entire family's Gluten-Free. If we are at a table like we were tonight, we'll definitely do that but we can't always guarantee we'll be the only family. But tonight, I wish we had just brought our own teriyaki and had them make the entire meal GF. Its just so much easier!
     
  2. Snowflake

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    That is so frustrating!

    I'll join in with my own horror story: We were at a fast-casual burrito place the other night (like a local version of Chipotle), and we ordered my dd the one GF kids item on the menu, a quesadilla with corn tortilla. The guy behind the counter then proceeded to put her quesadilla down directly on the roller that takes all of the burrito-bound flour tortillas through the warmer. I asked him to put foil down under her order, and, rather than starting over, he picked up the SAME quesadilla that had already been contaminated and put foil under it. This was a restaurant that had assured me over the phone that it took GF very seriously. Argh!!

    One of the worst parts about dining out with both celiac and T1 is that my daughter's food invariably takes longer than everyone else's, even when timing her food to her insulin is so important. And when we try to explain to servers that she has both conditions, so that they'll know to get things right the first time around, I sometimes feel like the servers don't quite believe us. They just think we're "those" parents.
     
  3. Mimikins

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    I feel the exact same way. Granted, I do not have celiac's (fingers crossed that I do not develop it also), but I have had some frustrating experiences while ordering food.

    My university has a few Starbucks places scattered around campus, and I typically run down there a few times a month to grab lunch. Because I am lazy and don't want to take a ton of insulin for drinks, I always ask for my iced tea unsweetened, my coffee black, and any lattes (if applicable) skinny. I had one barista give me sweetened iced tea (I took a sip, and the entire drink tasted like syrup) and another one giving me a regular mocha (I tested the drink, and it came back as HI instead of LO) instead of the sugar-free one. I also had a McDonald's worker give me a coffee with cream and sugar in it after asking for a black coffee :)confused:). Of course, once I tell them that I asked for something else, that I'm diabetic, and a mistake that like could be dangerous, they instantly treat me like I'm a high-maintenance prima-donna. I've pretty much learned that I should only bolus once I get my item and once I know that it is correct, so I've been lucky that I haven't had any super bad lows because of these mistakes.

    I really wish people would know not to BS information if they don't know anything also. My mom and I went to Don Pablo's a year ago. The trip was spontaneous, so I was unable to get the nutritional information in advance. Knowing the chain was a national one, and they should have the nutritional information in the store, I asked the waitress for the nutritional information. The manager came and gave me information on calorie counts. I then told her that I am a diabetic and looking for the carb information, and the manager went right ahead and told me that "If something is 100 calories, then it is 100 carbs." Um, no. I ended up guesstimating the meal, wrote a complaint to the headquarters (because the advice she gave me was completely out-of-line and dangerous had I'd followed it), and refuse to go back to any location after the headquarters sent me a reply back treating me like I was one of "those" high-maintenance people.
     
  4. Sarah Maddie's Mom

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    I have celiac and I never would consider asking a chef to accommodate me unless the restaurant had a specific "gluten free" menu and even then I don't think I'd seriously consider bringing my own ingredients to a restaurant. Nor do I ask for or expect carb counts when I eat out.
     
  5. Beach bum

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    My friend is GF, her daughter has a soy allergy. Japanese steakhouses are like a land mine she said. They have been cross contaminated one too many times. As she said, sadly some places, even though they assure you they do, just don't take it seriously. And in her opinion, just isn't worth the hassle.
    As for carb counts, I find that most of the time, the staff just don't get it. I go online to the company website, use Calorie King or Figwee.

    Sorry this happened, and hopefully your next dining out experience will be more positive.
     
  6. Snowflake

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    Personal experience, of course, but we've had some of our best, most accommodating dining experiences at restaurants without a specifically designated GF menu, and we've also encountered sloppy practices even at places that print a few menus and call them gluten free. This might all be regional difference, as we live near Boulder, where consciousness about GF is a little higher than other places we've lived.

    I've never thought about bringing ingredients for the kitchen to prepare, but we do always bring our own GF Tamari sauce for our daughter to dress her food with, since I'm a little wary of the "GF soy sauce" that many Asian places send unlabeled to the table.
     
  7. Nancy in VA

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    We didn't ask them for carb counts, and for more than 4 years after she was diagnosed, we didn't even consider going to Japanese steak house. But, its where my kids want to go for their birthday and it was my oldest's 18th birthday this weekend. My husband had called and talked to them and they indicated they used GF soy sauce, and we have seen the actual bottle they use (they don't put it in another dispenser - they bring out the regular bottle). And in the past, like I said, they cooked her food first on the grill (and we don't get her fried rice, we just get her white rice) and then ours, because that is their procedure. Their manager confirmed last night that cooking first IS their procedure, this chef just clearly had no clue about how to accommodate it. We didn't ask them to do anything they haven't otherwise indicated that they would do, or HAVE done in the past.

    We bring our own salad dressing and get her salad without dressing because their dressing is not gluten-free. She's fine without any teriyaki sauce since all they have offered is soy sauce, but the cross contamination issues were just out of control yesterday. She doesn't show ANY outward symptoms - which is good and bad. If she gets gluten, she doesn't get really sick like some people do. That's the good news. But, that means we just have to be extremely vigilant because we can't tell by symptoms if she has gotten gluten - AND that means she is at higher risk of going off her gluten-free diet later in life because her body won't tell her that gluten is bad for her!
     
  8. Snowflake

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    We have some of this frustration also. Our daughter almost never develops obvious GI symptoms after glutening, except for a couple of extreme and obvious-in-hindsight cases which left her with a bad tummy ache for a couple of days.

    She does sometimes get strange and sudden rashes, especially around her sites, which I strongly suspect are her body's main visible reaction to trace contamination; however, her GI Dr can only say that that's a plausible explanation without being able to confirm it. But of course, even if dd doesn't feel a thing, that doesn't mean she isn't suffering silent internal damage! And then, if we don't know for sure whether she's been glutened, we don't know whether to avoid that particular food or restaurant in the future.
     
  9. Nicole N

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    My son was diagnosed with Celiac in September and we haven't gone out to eat ONCE...and have never even ordered a pizza! I don't trust any restaurants. :(
     
  10. Cheetah-cub

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    I wonder if being a silent Celiac is more common among T1Ds... My daughter is also Celiac, but she suffers no symptoms with gluten. It seems most Celiacs can get very sick with even trace amount of gluten.

    I am actually grateful that my child does not get sick with gluten, but we are still very, very careful.

    I think eating out with Celiac can be an adventure every time.

    I will say that most of the time, we had great experiences. The most memorable good experiences actually came from staff who did not understand GF, but simply admitted the fact, and were happy to run back to the kitchen to ask or double check. We had one waiter who run back to the kitchen at least 4 times (in good humor) to ensure that our child's steak will be GF. We had one waitress who just came clean that she is not familiar with the GF diet, but will go ask. Then the head chef came out to our table and took our child's order directly, and it was clear that he understood the Celiac diet.

    The worst experiences (I can honestly remember only a few) came from places/staff that pretend they do, but they really don't. This often turned into a high stress meal. I would be forced to kick into my interrogation mode, they became annoyed, and treated me like a high maintenance witch.

    We found one such restaurant on the Find me GF website (I still called ahead and confirmed that they do GF). Our waitress did not give us a whole lot of confidence right from the beginning. When our first GF appetizer came out, it had 3 pieces of toasted bread on it. When I complained, the waitress told me "no problem, I will take it back and remove the bread for you." Of course, I had to re-exam their food and preparation, and was still too afraid to let my daughter eat there.

    I just wish restaurants that are celiac friendly (feature GF menu, or by reputation) can all do a better job training their staff. To me, having a knowledgeable and accommodating wait staff and kitchen make a lot of difference to our dinning experience.
     
  11. Megnyc

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    Sorry, that sounds really frustrating. I think it can be difficult with the current gluten free craze to get people to understand that Celiac is different and that it is very important to avoid cross contamination.

    If you are ever in NYC there is a great restaurant in the East Village that is similar in concept to a Japanese steakhouse. You pick a bunch of meats and sauces and grill the meat yourself at the table. One of my younger brothers had a birthday party there and his best friend has celiac and they did a really good job and seemed to really understand the issues with cross contamination. Actually, I think they were more careful than necessary. It is called Gyu Kaku and it is actually a chain so maybe you have one near you!
     
  12. Beach bum

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    Agreed. My friend said that she has found that at certain places, she needs to say "I need the gluten free menu because I am allergic to wheat" is the only way to get the people to truly understand. We went to a restaurant and she ordered chili, and they gave her flour tortillas with it. She told the server and all she did was remove the tortilla. My friend told the server "gluten free means gluten makes people ill. You will need to bring me a new plate and spoon so that I don't too. The server got the message. In fact, my friend told her to leave the plate her bowl was on and just bring her a new one with a new spoon so that she new it just didn't go in one door of the kitchen and right back out again.

    Again, sorry the OP had such a frustrating experience. Some places/people just don't get it.
     
  13. SarahKelly

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    I am so sorry you had this experience. My son has very outward responses to having been even exposed to gluten, that said we are also very vigilant when we go out to eat. There are so few places we can go that we feel safe about - but I have found that if the server asks, "is it for clieac disease or a gluten sensitivity?" than I know they know what they're doing in the kitchen for people with celiac disease (and food allergies). We also bring our own coconut aminos (GF soy sauce like sauce) to a thai place that has a dedicated section of their kitchen for GF, they have GF soy sauce there but it is horribly salty - and they're never offended by our bringing this. Same for dressings.
    Anyhow, it seems that this place is a family favorite - maybe you could call them ahead the day you plan on going in and double check that the person creating your dining experience is aware of the specifics about cross contamination. I don't think our kids should miss out on anything due to celiac disease if there is an option to make it safe - don't give up :)
     

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