Celiac Disease / Gluten Free Restaurants / Uncategorized

My Gluten-Free Responsibility

gluten-free restaurantHey gang o’ gluten-haters.

I hope your weekend was super duper lovely, filled with gluten-free cake. I really do. Me? Well, I’ve been struggling with whether to write this post or not because I always want to be fair. Sometimes even erring on the side of too fair, and facing consequences at a later date. (Looking at you, Loteria.) So I don’t know if not publishing the name of the restaurant is fair (to them), or unfair (to you). Fairness, it turns out, is complicated.

I was, in fact, all ready to write a glowing post about a new’ish restaurant I tried and how knowledgeable the wait staff was, and how excited I was to eat something other than my beloved steak and Brussels sprouts combo when I dine out. So I started writing it, even with a caveat. The caveat being, since I’m still in the middle of a really bad gluten’ing, I’m still getting sick every day, multiple times a day. (And no, the queso was NOT WORTH IT.) So how can I tell if a restaurant is truly safe, if I’m already sick?

My thought was,  if I continued the same level of sick as before then most likely the assurances I received from the waiter (I mean, when I told him I was celiac he replied, “Perfect!” and proceeded to tell me how there are no hidden ingredients so I would not have to worry, and they were all clear on soy sauce. I was stoked.) were accurate. Bam. A great place to dine gluten-free that is outside the usual fare LA serves up. What I had not considered is what actually happened: I became dramatically more ill. I mean, up all night, not sleeping, canceling Mother’s Day plans, stay in bed, ill. I cancelled a massage, people. That’s serious. Naturally, I’m assuming some gluten got up in me. But did it?

You see that burrata up there? I enjoyed the hell out of that burrata and house smoked brisket (it did come out with bread but my husband snatched it up before it could touch the melt-in-your-mouth beef) and hoover’d up the sunchokes with green goddess dressing. And then, I really got going. Enjoying a peat-y whiskey flight first thing put me in hungry mode. Which, I highly recommend. Highly. Maybe, drunkenly. This restaurant was adorable, fresh, interesting and most of all—freaking delicious. The only possible issue I could visibly see was the bread getting bread-breath on my brisket. But that wouldn’t really account for the violent illness that has plagued me, basically from about an hour after eating, that has still not stopped.

I’ve had sporadic issues with cheese, so maybe the burrata, oh, and this amazing potato puree with cheese curd, were to blame. As I’m trying to get to the bottom of all of this truly horrible, rotten, depressing way to spend Mother’s Day, I realize that this is the problem with eating outside of your own home: No matter how much you explain, no matter how much anyone thinks they understand, something could go wrong. And you know what? It’s impossible to tell what that “something” was. It’s also impossible to know if it was a slight cross-contamination or a dairy overload that I could usually deal with, but in my current state of “I’ve been sick for almost 3 weeks” my body just couldn’t take it.

So I don’t know whether to “call out” a restaurant that said it was safe and turned out not to be, or to just remind all of you (myself, especially) that when you’re healing from getting hit by the gluten monster, you should never dine out, cut out the dairy, and only focus on protein and greens. What is my responsibility here? What would you do? Oh, and I’M SO SICK OF BEING SICK!!!!!!




13 thoughts on “My Gluten-Free Responsibility

  1. Could it have been the Whiskey? Since going gluten free my body reacts to alcohol differently. I can’t drink ANY brown liquors anymore and especially since Whiskey is distilled from gluten-y ingredients I avoid it. I know, I know…”they” say because it’s distilled it doesn’t contain gluten and I’ve tried….oh how I’ve tried but it still makes me sick, turn beet red and break out in hives.

  2. Poor girl!! Been there done that SUCKS really bad! It sounds like maybe…just maybe you weren’t glutened at this restaurant though? I know to much dairy will make me feel like I have food poisoning….I mean sweat rolling off me, head in trash can, butt on toilet, the whole shabang!! Even more so if I have been gluted recently. I spent almost a full year in total denial…oh hell no…I”m in no way allergic to diary! I mean seriously I had only been gluten free for about a year and still getting used to the idea that I could no longer eat gluten. But no cheese, no cream cheese, no ice cream…what kind of crap was that? It wasn’t until I spent a few nights in that toilet trash can postion that I was willing to admit it. I can still have a little bit of diary as long as it’s not milk or has milk in it. Problem is when it comes to cheese I really have no comprehension just how much a little bit is.

    I so hope you get to feeling better very soon and happy belated mother day even though I know it wasn’t very happy! 😦

  3. Restaurants frequently use commercial stock bases for many things. These stocks can have gluten. It’s something a waiter probably would not know, and, perhaps, even the kitchen staff. There are other hidden sources of gluten in restaurant kitchens. Very few make absolutely everything from scratch.

  4. @ Stephanie
    Lactase, which is needed to digest lactose, is produced in the tips of the villi in your intestines. As you know, that’s not a good place to be in a person with celiacs. But, unless you were damaged badly enough that your villi will not heal, or unless you are having difficulty staying GF, your intestines should heal and your ability to digest lactose should return. That can take a couple years, so be patient/hopeful.

    @ Wendy
    Have you tried Jamiesons? Not all whiskeys are equal (neither in terms of flavor nor gluten-free-ness) and several involve reintroducing pre-distillation whiskey into the final product for flavor. Clearly, you want to avoid those.

    • Arvin, I truely hope you are correct. 🙂 I have developed so many food allergies since going gf that for a period of time food was the enemy. It seems like if I was going to be allergic to dairy it would have been before going gf not after. But then again I was in my forties before being diagnosed so maybe the damage is extensive….or maybe I’m just wierd….more than likely the later.
      I am super sensitive to gluten and really have no choice but to adhere to the gf lifestyle. I don’t dare eat out at restaurants….the few times I have it was disastrous.

  5. Oh, April, I feel for you. And being in Los Angeles, I would *love* a recommendation to a safe new CUTE GF restaurant. No, I don’t think you need to call them out, since it’s not clear if they were to blame. But your post is a good reminder that “safe” is a relative term. Heck,. I glutened myself the other day making dinner AT HOME. And it was something I have made many times before – brown rice, kale, white beans and vegan pulled “pork” (made from jackfruit). The BBQ sauce was GF *and* I had eaten it a month prior with no trouble. Sometimes this is all a freaking mystery to me. I hope you recover soon and reschedule that massage.

  6. I’m so sorry! Being glutened definitely is the worst! I love eating out, but it absolutely terrifies me at the exact same time. Feel better soon!

  7. Any chance it could have been the sunchokes? They contain lots of inulin, which can be really hard to digest. I don’t have many mysterious food intolerances besides my celiac, but I can’t eat a darn thing with inulin in it without horrific consequences! Hope you feel better soon.

    • I have had sunchokes before to no ill effect. Also, whiskey for the other person who was asking! I do think it was a cross-contamination issue as I mistakenly took the waiter’s enthusiasm for knowledge and didn’t ask my usual cross-contamination questions. My bad, but, honestly he shouldn’t have acted like I was so 100% safe. ACK.

      • I’m sorry 😦

        I was eating out at the BEST Mexican restaurant where i live in town (no lie, it’s amazing) and asked the maître d’ which appetizers were gluten free. She confirmed to me that sadly the nachos were not gf. She’d confirmed it with the chef.

        Then I get there and everyone’s ordering, and the waitress goes and looks at me (having been told I’m gf because I have celiac) and she says, “why aren’t you eating the nachos? you should have them, they’re just corn! Don’t you want to eat? everyone else is eating!”

        I was so miffed because A. I felt put on the spot in front of a table full of coworkers, (fear of the oh, she just doesn’t want to eat assumption) and B. because I was being lectured by a waitress who didn’t know shit. I wanted to go up to both the waitress and the maître d’ separately and say, don’t let your waitresses talk to people about food allergens unless their freaking SURE because I was told by the chef these weren’t gluten free and if I’d eaten them I would have become very ill, your waitresses need to not talk out of their ass.

        I didn’t say it. I probably should have. I just shook my head and let everyone assume I’m just one of those girls that doesn’t eat. 😛 But needless to say, months later and thinking about it still makes me mad.

        a few years in, post celiac diagnosis and I have (on a quick count) six other stories like that. I never thought I’d be the difficult girl at the dinner table, the one with the horror stories of people acting like dumbasses in the face of your permanent medical issue. I keep reminding myself we got off lucky. Seriously ladies, we are SO lucky we have this instead of any among a list of ten thousand worse, horrible diseases.

        But sometimes, like tonight a few days post-GI reaction to what, I still don’t know, all I want to do is hear the words of likeminded people who understand what it feels like to now to have a shadow of fear every time you pick up a fork and eat.

  8. Just my two cents: I’ve had issues with whiskey as well, since going gluten-free. And I know how frustrating to accidentally get gluten’d— and to not be able to trace the source. Hope you feel better!

  9. Wait, did I read this wrong? The bread was on YOUR plate? Because… That honestly should be enough CC for a “sensitive” celiac to get sick. Really. And honestly? Likely even “regular” ones.

    “The FDA came to a different conclusion in its analysis: It found that for the most sensitive people, intestinal damage begins at 0.4 milligrams of gluten per day (1/200th of a teaspoon of flour or 1/8,750th of that slice of bread), while symptoms begin at 0.015 milligrams of gluten per day (less than 1/500th of a teaspoon of flour or 1/233,333th of that slice of bread). The agency based those conclusions on various studies, including two case studies involving recurrent symptoms in people who consumed communion wafers once each week.”

    From: http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/PreventingCrossContamination/f/How-Much-Gluten-Can-Make-Me-Sick.htm

  10. Could it be you have issues with FODMAPS? If you have an issue with dairy sometimes, you may have more food related issues than just gluten. Trust me I was screaming “what fresh hell is this?!” It’s a thought anyway. I’m sure by now you feel better (just getting caught up on my reading) but I am truly sorry you had to cancel a massage for all of that, well and I’m also sorry you were sick, but that goes without saying – no one should have to experience that. ❤

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