Living Life with Celiac Disease


red robin

Slow Recovery

It is amazing the damage a piece of grain can do. Since my last post, “A Series of Unfortunate Events” my recovery is slow going. It’s been 6 days since my cross contamination at Red Robin and today is my first adventure out of the house. If not for Robert driving and accompanying me through the grocery store, for last minute Thanksgiving needs, I might be writing this from the floor of a shopping aisle.

The migraine is gone but the shortness of breath, brain fog, fatigue, joint pain, and exhaustion remain (I’m still waiting for the onslaught of hives).

The worst part of it all is knowing it may happen again. How many times do we play Russian Roulette with our body? When this episode is long forgotten, and I am caught up in the joyous whirlwind of love and family, I will let my guard down. I don’t know if it’s the black hole each episode leaves in my memory or wishful thinking it won’t happen again. Short of tattooing, “Do not feed the Celiac” on my forehead, I am doomed to repeat this mistake. Hopefully it won’t be days before a holiday again.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

The unexpected can come as a visit from out of town friends and/ or relatives, an unexpected night out, peer pressure, or lack of preparation. The latter is usually the one that gets me sick.

I was prepared for a visit from my out of state grandmother and my mom who brought her here from the airport. I had beans from the freezer, rice, tortillas, and a cornucopia of fruit. A safe haven for my celiac disease and a comfortable atmosphere for my guests.

I knew we were driving an hour and a half to visit Robyn and her family. I knew we needed to eat. I got caught up in the happy moment of family and let my guard down at Red Robin. I never have a problem with their fries since they are fried in separate oil and I ask for no seasoning salt.

My lapse of judgement was to order a fried egg on the UDI’s GF bun. In retrospect the egg must have been fried on a shared grill. Although I told the server of my allergy, the bottom line is: I trusted a stranger with my health. No matter how many times I make this mistake, it happens again.

The worst part of this whole experience? The voice in my head warning me, screaming at me not to order anything but fries. My desire to be somewhat normal pushed that voice aside and now I am spending my second day home sick from work and on the couch with a killer migraine, breathing problems, and digestive issues I will save for another post.

The bottom line? We aren’t normal, we have sensitive bodies that see wheat as the enemy. As we would protect our children from taking candy from strangers, we need to protect ourselves from taking food from strangers. Listen to that voice screaming in your head (not the one begging to be normal) the one that knows what’s better for you than you do. Be strong and good luck on your family visits and outings!


Safe Restaurants

Social gatherings, meetings, and lunch dates, all involve food. Finding a safe restaurant is hard! Some have gluten free menus, but that jut means they have foods with no wheat, flour, barley. It does not always mean that their food is made without cross-contamination.

Red Robin:
Most Red Robin’s now have a separate fryer for French fries, most restaurants fry all of the French fries (naturally gluten free) in the same fryer as onion rings, fried fish, breaded chicken and mozzarella sticks and all of the other breaded fried foods.
Red Robin also carries a gluten-free Udi’s bun which tastes great.
Be careful all of their dressings and sauces are not gluten free, honey poppy seed and ketchup are safe.

Most people know that they will wrap the burger in lettuce, but did you know that if you say “allergy to wheat” they will cook your burger on a gluten free grill that does not handle buns.
Since they have such a small menu and only fry French fries, their fries are also GF.

Most of Chipotles food is gluten free, minus the tortillas and the hot salsa. But if you let the person starting your bowl or salad that you have an allergy to wheat, they will wash their hands, change their gloves and they usually make sure no one else handles your food. They will also get cheese and lettuce that have not been contaminated with flour tortilla hands.

These are my three go-to places. I will fill you in on other SAFE places to eat. Just remember ALWAYS let your server know you have an allergy!


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