GF Life Hack #3

So this may seem redundant- but I feel it is vital to share again- perhaps in a different context.

#4. You are your only advocate that will always be with you- you have to become a fierce advocate for yourself!

This hack is very similar to hack number 1, but with some slight and important differences.  The first being that you have to be ok with sending food back if it is incorrect- and be explicit with what is wrong with it. I’m not advocating that we give a dressing down to every waiter and/or chef that ever makes a mistake. On the contrary if you keep hack number 2 in mind you can still be thankful and firm that something is not right with your meal.

Part of the importance of this hack is remembering there isn’t anything wrong about firmly asking for what you need, you don’t need to apologize for it. I find often I am uncomfortable with being so firm and try to soften my requests for safe food- I have paid for that mistake. You have a right to safe food and if someone can’t provide it for you it is ok to decline to eat or walk out of the restaurant if that is where you are. [Just a side note, I have never had trouble at this particular restaurant!  I’ll share more about that later!]

One of the other aspects of this hack is that while it is important to have someone who supports your diet they can’t do everything for you. When I first got diagnosed with celiac disease my husband jumped in with both feet. He began doing research and reading labels like a pro. He also became my voice at family functions and restaurants. It wasn’t until I went out with some friends without him that I realized I needed to be more comfortable doing these things on my own. Another hard lesson learned- and still learning. 😉


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!