Gluten-free food fail

Monday, July 2, 2012 Permalink

I often talk here about stepping out of my comfort zone – which I do believe to be a good thing. Sort of. When I leap too far outside of it I struggle, but pushing the boundaries can bring some benefits. Apparently.

However, there are other times when stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, even a teensy bit, is problematic.

I was diagnosed as coeliac (celiac, for my US readers!) about 6 or so years ago. After surviving the initial upheaval when everything seemed traumatic and felt too hard, I’m now pretty accustomed to my gluten-free way of life.

There are a heap of GF options at my local supermarkets and I know of many cafes and restaurants which cater for coeliacs and those who are gluten intolerant.

In my experience… posh places are usually fine. They make stuff from scratch, cater to fussy eaters and remain ‘current’ so know what’s what.

More problematic are the pubs or clubs where meals are basic; or takeaways, where less adaptation is possible.

Just five years ago I often got blank looks when I asked about GF menu options and I struggled to explain what I could and couldn’t eat. However, nowadays when I ask I almost always receive an informed response.

However…

Having just spent the weekend in Sydney I was again reminded that this being-coeliac caper is… well, it’s sometimes a pain in the butt (and not just cos I can’t eat KFC. GOD I miss KFC!). Being unfamiliar with inner-city Sydney meant that I struggled with food choices all bloody weekend. I had a similar issue when in Melbourne in April. Those with me are dragged from café to café looking for some sign of gluten-free friendliness.

I ended up eating a flourless chocolate cake for breakfast at 7.30am on Saturday as the only place we found open was a chain store called Pieface selling… you guess it… pies and pastries and the like; and the cake was my only GF option.

A very slight hangover on Sunday meant that I craved bacon and eggs (I’ve written about my post-blogging conference exploits in my other blog). Once I arrived at the airport in Sydney I headed to the counter of a café and got a quizzical “Nothing,” in response to my standard, “What do you have that’s gluten-free?” question. Rather it was the Asian place next to it, which offered up a couple of choices.

I’m generally very fortunate as my friends and family are very conscious of my dietary needs and we often choose places solely based on the availability of GF options. In fact, I try to support those cafes and restaurants which overtly refer to dietary needs, or include little asterisks or symbols to indicate the availability of GF options.

Catering for those with dietary needs isn’t THAT hard to do and it pisses me off when places don’t make the effort. You can get soy sauce WITH or WITHOUT gluten. Ditto re cornflour, bacon and the like. Buying a loaf of GF bread isn’t overly challenging. Surely!

So, despite having a fabulous time at my first blogging conference, I must confess to being relieved to be back home and knowing EXACTLY where I can and can’t go and what I can and can’t eat. It seems that, in my case familiarity DOESN’T breed contempt, but comfort!

 

 

11 Comments
  • Satu
    July 2, 2012

    Traveling can be a pain in the butt. I remember what a hassle it was to learn to use American showers when I visited there 5 years ago.

    BTW, congrats on your successful 30-day challenge! Did you get a backlash?

    I must head to your other blog now..

    • Debbish
      July 2, 2012

      Thanks Satu… I’m really happy about my challenge results for June and have built on that a bit in July! Am a bit worried how I’ll go trying to avoid alcohol all month though!!!

      Deb

  • Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
    July 2, 2012

    Eating chocolate cake for breakfast doesn’t sound like the *worst* thing 😉

    • Debbish
      July 2, 2012

      Dannii, my biggest stress was that I’d committed to a chocolate-free June (and it was June 30th). I couldn’t decide if I’d meant to include chocolate-flavoured things in that (though realise I often drink diet hot chocolate at night!) or just the real stuff (CHOCOLATE chocolate!). But… I’d also already published my post saying I’d survived the month chocolate free… so oops!

      Must confess though, it wasn’t terribly delicious – a bit dry!

      Deb

  • Jo Tracey
    July 3, 2012

    I’m not gluten free (but perhaps should be…)but have a lot of friends that are- & a few that have nut allergies or lactose intolerances. When they eat at ours it isn’t a big deal- we make everything from scratch (largely because of our neighbours daughter who has a nut allergy) & easily adapt to the gluten free option when those people are over- without making a song & dance about it. I choose the gluten free soy as a given & the gluten free cornflour, amongst others. And there is so much that is naturally gluten free. It makes my blood boil how some places make it all harder than it should be & turn what should be an enjoyable evening out into a potential minefield for those who have no choice but to be choosy.

    • Debbish
      July 3, 2012

      So true Jo. I’m excited when cafes and restaurants go to a bit of trouble. One of the Asian places I went to in Sydney actually said they could cook x with GF soy sauce rather than normal soy sauce and I was stoked they even knew that soy sauce had gluten in it (many people don’t).

      Deb

  • Julia
    July 3, 2012

    I don’t know how I missed that you had celiac disease! What a celiac can and cannot eat to me is fascinating. How did you find out?

    • Debbish
      July 4, 2012

      Julia, I’d had constant bloating and thought I had irritable bowel syndrome for years. Plus i was a bit anaemic though ate lots of meat. I had a blood test, which showed an indication and then had to have an endoscopy to confirm it. The most difficult part is the hidden gluten, in stock powders, soy sauce, SOME cornflour etc.. Plus sometimes I feel that people think I’m being fussy and just ‘choosing’ to remove gluten from my diet, but if I have some I react to it like food poisoning.

      xx

      • Julia
        July 4, 2012

        Yea – I get it. Having a gluten allergy is really bad. It annoys me that some people think you avoid is voluntarily.

  • Neen
    July 11, 2012

    I’m alarmed that you had to have something from pie face for breakfast, just to be on the safe side. How awful it must be to constantly have to worry about what’s in things all the time. Next time you come to Sydney, let me know and I’ll give you some good cafe recommendations.

    I ‘d never thought about the fact that I should support flexible cafes who offer lots of different options. I’ll make an effort to do this in the future, even though I don’t have any allergies.

    • Debbish
      July 12, 2012

      My mum is such a sweetie… since my diagnosis she makes a point of asking places about their GF options (just with me in mind). She thinks the more people who raise it, then the more conscious places will be!

I'd love to hear your thoughts