GF life hack #4

This hack is new to me, but goes along so well with hacks #1 ,2, and 3 I just have to share it now.

#4. Don’t be afraid to ask for something not listed on the menu. Most places are all too happy to help out if you request is;

  1. Reasonable
  2. Politely asked
  3. And the answer is graciously accepted

Again some of these early hacks may seem like common sense, but sometimes these common courtesies can be easy to rush past when you’re concerned about getting things taken care of correctly.

I was excited to be able to use this hack a couple of times while on vacation recently. Once was for my son (2nd pickiest eater only to me), and again later for myself. Luckily my son does not have to eat gluten free, but I’ve found it’s almost harder to get accommodations done for non-dietary conditions. The people I was working with at Disneyland were awesome. We were ordering lunch for everyone else and I had just about decided to dig out a protein bar for the kid when I noticed that the kids meal options included a turkey and cheese sandwich. While my kiddo would pass on the turkey he does like grilled cheese.  So I politely asked if they would be able to make a substitution and requested the grilled cheese. They checked with the chef and said they’d be able to do that for us. I thanked them for helping us out and they shared they were happy to do it.

At another quick service restaurant later the same trip I discovered they had gluten free hot dogs and buns- new information to me. However they did not have gluten free sides. When I asked if they could sell me the hot dogs separately from the meals they had listed they said they would have to charge me for the full meal price weather I took the sides or not. Even though this was not the answer I wanted to hear and I may have been little disgusted I still made sure to thank them. I thanked them for taking the time to talk to me and for letting me know that there was another option for me to be able to eat. I feel that it’s important to always be gracious- again the way we treat people who serve us will reflect not just on us but on everyone who comes after you with the same questions or dietary needs. You don’t want them to say in the kitchen-” we have another gluten free person trying to order something”. I’d rather they look on serving the group of us as a whole as a challenge and perhaps even fun.  I did have a chef say that on this trip- it was so awesome to work with him. For more of that story check out my “Disneyland snacks I recommend” page. 😊

*** Edited later to add:  We recently returned for a quick trip to Disneyland and we returned to the same Hot Dog quick service restaurant.  They now have gluten free sides-not fries, but its nice to get a little more with your meal when you are paying for it anyway.  I asked them when/why they had made the sides available and they shared that that the sides options had been requested by the people with dietary concerns.  It works!


GF life hack #2

This is a perfect follow up to GF life hack #1 and I am so thankful to have had a perfect opportunity to practice it today!

#2 When someone helping you figure out what to eat is able to help you go out of your way to show gratitude and appreciation.

This may sound like common sense- but it’s very serious! Tonight we were eating at the Storytellers Cafe located in the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort. One of the things I love, is that whether you make a reservation or you drop in- at any sit down restaurant they ask if anyone in your party has any food allergies. Tonight I said, “yes, Celiac..” and before I could add what I meant by that the hostess Melissa said,”ok so you are unable to have gluten- I’ve got that down.” Right from the start I was reminded how nice awareness was- and I told her so. She smiled and thanked me for taking the time to say so and a few minutes later she had us seated and passed off to Tiffany.

Tiffany came over noticed I’d been handed an allergy menu and immediately checked in with me. This already was so different then when we had eaten there a couple years ago- last time there was no menu. She talked over some of the finer points- I wished I had taken a picture to share with you- bummer! Anyway, she made sure I understood then gave us some time to look it over. She came back, to check in and offered to bring the chef out in case I wasn’t completely comfortable. — side note please take advantage of this if you aren’t! As I’ve mentioned before we have made this our vacation destination for the last few years and I’m actually starting to recognize some of the chefs and wait staff from previous visits. Please know that for the first few times to any restaurant but especially here, I talked to every chef that prepared my food. They are incredibly sweet and helpful people- talk to them!–And we’re back. I told Tiffany that I felt comfortable with the new menu- and then she proceeded to share what her favorite gluten free items were! Come to find out that even though she doesn’t have to eat gluten free she wanted to know what to recommend so she tried them- and she was right! My food was delicious- in fact I started eating before I got a picture- sorry! But here is what was left of my chicken quesadillas and gluten free bread(which is the base for their flatbread pizza Tiffany recommended that I try next time.) 

All of my food came with the little wooden stick stuck in saying “allergy” to make sure it was kept safe.

Once my family and I finished eating I made sure and stopped not only Tiffany- but I told her manager too. I made sure they knew what it meant to me to have people who knew what I needed and helped me get it. But that they also took the time with me and didn’t just try to shove me off to the side because I would be a more difficult customer. I guarantee if you take the time to show appreciation you will make an impression. And maybe it will help you later if you go back- but you will also help the next “difficult customer” with any type of allergy get the help they need.


GF Life Hack #1!

Alright, it’s time to start sharing my gluten free life hacks. So “let’s start at the very beginning…” (if the answering phrase didn’t immediate come to mind it’s time to rewatch “The Sound of Music”!)

#1 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask-if you have a sense of shame it’s time to lose it or you are going to miss out on some amazing food and experiences!

I have a prime example from last night!! My family is currently traveling to our favorite destination- Disneyland! It’s a two day car trip which means possibly problematic eating situations for me. We’ve done this drive enough that we have some usual stops but this time with the way kids were sleeping we opted to keep driving and passed by those spots. So last night we stopped in an unfamiliar town with fast food places we knew couldn’t accommodate me- so we tried a Mexican restaurant since I can usually find something that is inherently gluten free. We followed the directions to the spot and almost turned around. It looked a little sketchy but it was late and we were all starving. At some of our Mexican restaurants in town I have a few favorite dishes that they substitute corn tortillas for me, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that last night. First the chips came out and they looked different from what I’m served in town. When I was originally diagnosed I just would’ve sat there letting my family enjoy the chips and not asking if I could have them. This time, however, I asked and was rewarded. Not only could I eat them, but they were delicious! 

Next I asked and decided to try their chicken tacos. I was a little trepidatious but again thankfully surprised! It was some of the best we’ve ever had. So thank you Sal’s Mexican Restaurant in Madera, California! 

So moral of the story- you can’t live your life (or your dining) in fear! Either way, it’s better to know if you can’t eat- like today our stop for lunch at a food court means I’m eating some of the food I packed in the car when we get back to it, but that meant I could share my experiences with you. Or you can find a diamond in the rough- and have a new opportunity to enjoy something new!


Traveling Gluten-Free!

Our family likes–no that’s the wrong word, LOVES to travel.  We are all about the car trips, in particular trips that take us to anything Disney, or Comic Book related.  While these sound like relatively similar types of trips they aren’t and it all has to do with the food!  As someone who has to eat gluten-free it seems like so much of life revolves around food always planning ahead for every situation, making sure I can eat or where I am going to eat.  As you can imagine and have probably experienced yourself, traveling presents a whole new series of complications.  When you stay at home it is much easier to eat something you or a loved one has prepared or even go out to eat. At home you most likely have a list of local favorite restaurants that you know are safe.  But when you travel, even if you’ve been there before, in the time that has passed since your last visit things could have changed.  Or perhaps you are adventurous and going somewhere new, no matter what you do the issue of; what, when and where to eat is a present and constant annoyance.

Now if you are gluten intolerant, or avoiding gluten for your own personal reasons it may not be as big of a concern.  For those of you that are facing Celiac Disease or a severe allergy it can be a huge weight to carry on a trip-sometimes literally.  As you ponder what the easiest way to figure out how to feed yourself on your trip is, it may become apparent that taking your own food is the simplest option.  So then there’s the whole issue about what to pack that would be easy to eat–you get the idea.

My husband and I love Disneyland.  We loved it before we got married, but once we got married we visited for our honeymoon and the rest is history.  A few kids later and now we’ve been with both sides of our family a few times.  Once I got diagnosed with celiac disease we feared traveling to Disney parks would be more difficult and close to impossible to make work-thankfully we were wrong.  One of my new favorite things about Disney-there is a multitude of options for me.  Every chef/cook/wait staff person that I have talked to has known exactly how to help me, or who I needed to talk to get help.  One of my favorite parts-I can have BREAKFAST!! My favorite meal, and the hardest if you happen to enjoy baked goods at all, but not at Disney parks!  I love getting to go somewhere and eat with my family without worrying about cross-contamination or someone preparing food that doesn’t understand how meticulous they need to be.  In fact it’s been so amazing we have visited Disneyland more than anywhere else over the last few years and are actually leaving for another visit in a few days!  I’m so excited to be able to share pictures and hacks!! (The featured images is actually of one of the fabulous gluten-free meals I’ve had at Disneyland!)

Now while traveling to Disneyland is somewhat simple the other half of traveling that we enjoy to comic conventions is rather impossible.  If there is food it is almost always without a doubt unsafe for gluten-free people.  So the only way to get through an entire day at a convention relies entirely on you and what you can pack ahead of time.  I have some hacks for how I’ve survived different conventions that I’ll happily share in a future post.  (I’m pretty sure these hacks can apply to other situations-not just comic related.)

I have had so many friends and acquaintances ask how we travel and avoid cross-contamination.  After sharing these hacks with various people, it was recommended that we compile them-so here they come!  If they help even one person, it will be worth it!  Comment below if there is a certain question you have.  I’d love the chance to be able to find the Gluten-Free Life Hack for you!