Eating Out With Gluten and Dairy Allergies

Going out to eat was something I always used to look forward to, usually as something that John and I did every Saturday.  I also enjoyed getting take out every once in a great while, whether it was with my mother or on my own.  When I found out about my allergies, eating out and getting taking out became a bit of a challenge.  When it came to eating out at restaurants, which was going to be a bit of a problem.  I knew that I had to do some research and check out the allergy menus for the major chains and when I did, it pretty much eliminated almost every single restaurant that John and I liked to eat at.  We found that out the hard way in the beginning when we tried going to Cracker Barrel; I was limited to sides and salads on the “Allergy Menu” due to having not one, but two food allergies.

Alas, my favorite meal, the Broiled Rainbow Trout, was made with butter and not only did the manager refuse to help me (he said it was “Corporate Policy” to use butter), the server had the nerve to ask us for our drink order.  We had to walk out and go elsewhere.  Much to our relief and delight, Bertucci’s was more than happy and willing to accommodate me regarding my allergies to dairy and gluten.  Thankfully, there is the internet; most chain restaurants do provide allergy information along with their menu items, plus there are times where I have to pick up the phone and call to ask if that information isn’t available.  Unfortunately, a lot of the places that I like to eat at are pretty much eliminated due to many of the items containing wheat/gluten and dairy.  As of this writing, there are probably four or five places that I feel comfortable eating at that can accommodate my allergy needs.  Hopefully, there will be more places that I can eat at down the road.  While a lot of establishments don’t necessarily have a gluten free menu per say, I do advise the server about my allergies, even though there is a chance of cross contamination, although they’re pretty good about being careful.

The Story

It’s not just eating at restaurants that can be treacherous, it’s also getting take out as well.  I don’t even bother asking my mom to order me something for takeout anymore because with my luck, the order would get messed up because the person taking the order wouldn’t understand the request or probably wouldn’t be able to accommodate my dietary needs.  The one place that I thought was okay to order from the deli counter turned out to be a disappointment. The major convenience store chain in the area where I live is Wawa and since I can’t enjoy a Hoagie anymore, I thought a Hoagie Bowl would be a suitable alternative, especially a Tuna Hoagie bowl.  However, until recently, I wasn’t aware that the tuna salad that Wawa used for its Hoagies and Hoagie Bowls contained wheat.  All this time I was telling them about my gluten and dairy allergies and they didn’t bother to point out that the tuna salad had wheat in it.  In fact, it was a woman who was standing next to me who told me and I requested that they bring out the packaging and sure enough, there it was, the allergy information at the end stating that the tuna salad did indeed contain wheat.  Much to my disappointment and John’s, we had to cancel our order.  I complained to the manager about it, he said that I should have “gone online to look at the nutrition information” before I ordered.

Thing was, my fiancé and I were on the move and I really didn’t think to do that because we just wanted to stop in, order and purchase our meals, and get back on the road and do what we needed to do.  However, now I know what not to order now, I just felt really upset with myself at that moment because I have been making a concerted effort to be gluten free for the last several months and I felt like I screwed it up.  All was well when we stopped at the Wrightstown Farmers market and got Vegan “tuna” sandwiches on lettuce leaves in lieu of bread at the Luhv’s Bistro booth (it’s actually made from chickpeas, who knew).

Just keep in mind that while there are some places that are willing to accommodate you, it’s advisable to do your due diligence.  While it’s difficult to find places that have things for you to eat, safety and health come first.