Autoimmune, Blog, Celiac, Gluten, Kindness, Restaurants

“My Love for Eating at Restaurants Has Now Become a Chore”

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

If you’re a parent, especially a parent to young children, you know that alone time and date nights are something that are rare and therefore an event to look forward to. I love, love, love my baby boys. They bring me so much joy and make my heart so full. I feel so very blessed to be their mommy. Buuuutttttt…. you know what? Sometimes I just need a little quiet. A little adult time, free of wiping butts, boogers and tears. To finally get a chance to have an adult conversation without constant interruptions asking us what word we just spelled out. Which by the way is not going to last much longer in our house as mine and my husband’s way of keeping secrets from our kids as our oldest is quickly excelling with reading and is starting to figure out spelling. Might need to switch to pig Latin soon!

Early into my diagnosis last year, I had been trying to plan a couple’s night out with 2 of our couple friends for weeks. Between kids’ schedules, hubby’s work schedules, a gazillion kid birthday parties, work and more, it took a long time to pick our date night! When that date was finally picked, oh I marked that baby on my calendar with many exclamation marks! We locked in our babysitter and looked forward to a couple hours of adult time!

That time came for our babysitter to arrive and for us to lovingly dart out of the house.

Photo Credit to “Identity Theft” movie

We all agreed to meet at a local restaurant for dinner, then we would walk to some local bars for some live music and adult beverages.

Now I have to say, in preparation for this evening my anxiety decided to run rampant. Oh, my poor body; butterflies, anxiety and nervousness had one large party! Not good for my autoimmune disease. I tried to calm it down by checking out the menu on their website to pick out what I could eat. I had a small meal before we left in case I got there and was just too nervous about getting sick. When we saw our friends, the nerves passed. Smiles came, hugs and laughter.

We all sat at our table catching up and enjoying each other’s company. I quietly whispered to my husband, “what should I order?? Should I just not eat?” Even though these were close friends, I was so worried about the judgement of NOT ordering. I felt like I HAD to eat something. My husband had also eaten a little dinner with me and the boys before we left so he wasn’t hungry either. So, we whispered to each other, how about we split something. We decided to get a dish that claimed, in big bold letters, that it was GF. It was Mahi Mahi and scallops with veggies and polenta. So, because I was so nervous, my husband thoughtfully ordered the dish for us and LUCKILY he asked the server, “my wife and I are going to split this dish. My wife has Celiac Disease; is this dish, including the sides, gluten free?” The server shockingly replies, “oh…well actually the polenta that comes with it is not gluten free.”

I couldn’t believe that this dish and the sides they paired with it, claimed to be gluten free when in fact the entire plate was not. Had my husband not asked that question, I would have eaten that polenta and been sick for days. For me, it was certainly a lesson learned to make sure to ALWAYS mention my disease and express heavily that I cannot have any gluten.

That evening turned out to be a tough reality check for me between dinner and then going out for a few drinks. The bars that we ended up at, turned out to be breweries which, for obvious reasons, was not a place a Celiac belongs in. Luckily as time goes on, more and more people are discovering they have Celiac or Gluten Intolerance and therefore must avoid gluten. There seems to be more and more options for us who must avoid gluten. As well as, more restaurants that are being more careful with dishes for those that cannot eat certain foods.

But man, I have to be real right now; well I am always pretty real but just getting a little emotional now. Lately, the idea of eating at restaurants, depresses me. It gives me so much anxiety. Checking the menu. Calling to speak to the manager beforehand to find out how safe their kitchen is from cross contamination. Finding a place that is not only safe for me but a place that offers more than just cardboard with a side of beansprouts.

We can’t just swing into a place when we don’t feel like cooking. I feel like I am always “the problem” when it comes to picking out a place to eat. I feel like I have lost invitations because, frankly, who wants to be bothered with going out with me and be stuck eating at one of those “crunchy” hip, modern restaurants!? It tires me. It saddens me.

I have always had anxiety. I struggle with it daily. This celiac thing adds to it. Man, I feel like I do an awesome job of being positive and trying to have a good outlook but sometimes I don’t want to be positive. I hate the feeling of being the weird one who brought her own salad to a pizza party. The annoying one who can’t eat at any restaurant on vacation because you’re in a town so small that when the words Celiac and Gluten are mentioned, they think you’re speaking another language. Sigh. But I’ll be fine. Those of us with allergies, food intolerances and Celiac, we’ll all be fine. With my husband (my biggest support) by my side, I will get through my sad days. I’ll get over feeling sorry for myself and feeling sad when I don’t get an invitation because clearly those aren’t my people.

I recently had lunch with one of my best friends of 20+ years. Someone who is more than a best friend but considered family and one of my top supporters. We met at a restaurant that seemed safe for me. I had tacos and some street corn, and I was so happy. The food, the care the staff put into to keeping my food safe, the company, laughter and conversations. Everything. I have plans tomorrow for a little girls night, at this same restaurant, to meet another one of my best friends who I consider family and one of my top supporters. This might be “my” spot. So, who’s up for a girls night at Shaker and Peel with me?!!

I’ll have my good days, my great days and my sad days. I appreciate the good and grow from the bad. And it’s okay to have sad days. Constantly reminding myself that I have so many people who care and who don’t mind eating beansprouts and kale with me, helps me get through those sad days.

“Never allow anyone to take away your sparkle. Be kind and laugh and love often.”

Cheers, Tracy

2 thoughts on ““My Love for Eating at Restaurants Has Now Become a Chore””

  1. I for one am someone who will go to the restaurants that meet your dietary needs! But also, as I read this, I was thinking, I need to suggest Shaker and Peel! 😋🥗🌮

    Like

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