Eating out Gluten Free

Yesterday, I went to eat with my daughter (Charis) and my husband (Tim) to one of my favorite restaurants, BJ’s Brewhouse in Chandler, AZ. This restaurant has wonderful gluten-free options – most especially a gluten-pizookiefree pizookie (although I should’ve gotten the mini-pizookie)! I usually have dessert as my appetizer, so I love eating here!

I have Celiac’s disease, so when I go to a restaurant,  I generally research it first. Then when I order, I explain to the waitstaff that I am one of those people who is actually allergic to gluten, so I have to be incredibly careful.

I learned I had Celiac’s only about  year ago. I know – how could someone miss that?  Well, all the symptoms were disguised by all of my other disorders – Lupus, Sjogrens, Fibro, blah blah blah. But since I have gone strictly GF, I have noticed a serious change (I need to go Paleo …which I tried… but more about that later).

Yesterday, I started with the GF pizookie, then followed with broccoli cheese soup and cheddar mashed potatoes. I must’ve had low blood sugar, because I was ordering all the carb/sugar comfort foods.  About halfway through the soup, my brain drained. I mean, it was like watching a tub drain, I just melted away. I started yawning, not the nice polite yawns, but those yawns that you can’t open your mouth wide enough or yawn long enough to help. My head started dropping; I could not get my eyes to stay open.

I’ve done this twice before over the past year and we were able to immediately identify a cross-contamination with gluten. So….it’s a gluten reaction for me.

We asked the waitress if it was possible that the pizookie was not GF. She said no, they come packaged separately, and they are in black dishes, while the regular ones are in silver dishes. We asked about the soup and the mashed potatoes (because I had switched to them meanwhile) and explained that I only do this with gluten. She was very concerned and went to get the manager, Kevin.

Kevin was everything one could hope for in a manager. He explained how they are very careful to swap gloves, handle food completely separate, etc. He apologized profusely. And yes, he could tell there were issues – I could barely hold myself upright at this point. I explained that I am incredibly sensitive to cross-contamination, so it may have been nothing that they did overtly. (I also ate two pieces of my daughter’s broccoli…which was also  on the GF menu, but perhaps hers was not handled the same way as it was not ordered GF – I recalled this part later, but not at the time…brain shut down).

He apologized more and comped all of my food, which I objected to, but he insisted. He was going to have a talk with all cooks, prep workers, and waitstaff about the critical importance of how to handle GF. He was incredible.

I, on the other hand, will now have a big, bloated belly for the next two weeks. And I am headed for a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on Norwegian Cruise Lines. I usually lose weight on cruises, because all the fruits and veggies I want are available non-stop.

The important point here is that I am learning how I react to gluten and to even the smallest cross-contamination. It’s a journey and one that I am not looking forward to, but every step along the way teaches me how to treat my body right if I want to be here to be a terror to my great-grandbabies (nope, not even a grandmother here—that was not a hint).

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