Last week on July 1, I went viral on the http://live.gfreeandhappy.com/ show w/Kathy Nelson. Her half hour show allowed me to talk about something I am extremely passionate about, an epidemic running rampant among those with gluten problems, ‘Glutening in Restaurants’. In the interview, I provide glutenfree tips for eating out, how to keep yourself from being glutened, danger signs to look for, questions you need to ask, the best ways to stay safe, and the general dangers the Celiac Community & those with Sensitivity need to be aware of when dining out.
I have been working in and out of the restaurant industry for many years and there is much more that goes on behind the scenes then you even realize. Foods you generally would deem as safe have many hidden dangers. For example, in one of my restaurants our iced tea is brewed in the bread room with no lid. If flour can stay in the air for up to 24 hours then that room is never flour-free and little particles are muddling with the tea and being served to you. Does this have an affect, I don’t know, but it is something to consider.
One of the main concerns I find not only in my life and experience, but in many of my fellow GF peeps out there, is the stress that goes along with eating out. No matter how glutenfree the food really is at a restaurant, I feel like I am always rolling the dice hoping that if it is glutinous, my body will react quickly enough before I finish the whole plate. What people don’t seem to realize is that even the tiniest bit of gluten can affect people, i.e.- using a knife to cut a piece of regular bread and then using that same knife to cut into my bread. Those few crumbs will create a reaction that spirals into many a different symptoms like: bloating, vertigo, migraines, body aches, general nausea, throwing up, restless leg syndrome, irritable bowel, diarrhea, cold sores, extreme lethargy, irritability, stomach cramps, brain cloudiness or hives and that is a small list of the possibilities. But, if the attack is bad enough, all symptoms will happen nearly at the same time within 24 hours and lasting up to a week. Pleasant right?! Now you can see where in the stress lies.
Restaurants are adding gluten-free to their menus in hopes of attracting new customers and bumping up sales, but are rarely taking any of the precautions or have an understanding of cross contamination in the kitchen or with staff. Most have no knowledge of how serious gluten cross contamination is to someone who has issues with it and sometimes people with the issues aren’t aware that the kitchen and staff are clueless. Which is why asking questions is extremely important. We need to hold restaurants accountable if they make their patrons sick with false advertising and cross contaminated food. If restaurants are going to offer glutenfree, then they need to be as Celiac-Safe and responsible as possible because that is my standard and should be our whole communities standard. I do not want to be scared to eat out for the rest of my life and it is time we take a stand and tell restaurants it is NOT ok to add GF to your food items unless you are prepared and knowledgeable about what that really means.
Change starts one person at a time with the ability to create a domino effect of change throughout our community. This is our affliction and we set the standards, not restaurants and not the FDA. Start using Yelp as a tool to tell unsafe eateries, You Cannot Put GlutenFree on Your Menu Unless it is Safe. Spread the word on twitter, facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, blogs… Get the word out & help others figure out where and where not to eat. Go to http://www.findmeglutenfree.com and http://www.canieathere.com to rate individual places. Give the Restaurants that are making us sick the bad press they deserve, forcing them to be responsible or take the GF symbol off their menu. As well as giving restaurants that are taking special care the thumbs up and props they deserve. It is about making a safer world for us to live and eat in and that my friends is up to us.
Thank you for your support