Sunday, July 28, 2013

When Dining Out Gets Dicey

What do you do when a restaurant--literally--serves nothing you can eat?

This has been a very busy, very family-filled week for me, and it included a number of family get-togethers. Fortunately, I love my in-laws, so the social aspect of it was awesome. Unfortunately, Friday night we met at an unfamiliar restaurant that--gasp!--didn't serve anything gluten-free. Ever been in that situation?

After politely asking the server about gluten-free menu items when we first arrived, I received the above information as I headed to the restroom. My response? I smiled brightly, said, "No problem!" and headed to the bathroom...where I did my best not to freak-out, break down in tears, or throw a tantrum. I knew I needed to figure out a solution, but dragging my husband away from his 30-plus extended family members was not an option, nor was politely requesting we move the whole crowd to another restaurant. (It was a surprise party, after all.) Instead, I sent a text to my husband explaining my dilemma (to avoid an emotional outburst), demanded he read the text when I got back to the table (sweetly, of course), and stewed for a bit while he came up with a plan.

After I snapped at him once or twice, my husband suggested we get permission from the manager to bring in outside food and--knowing how petulant I get in these situations--called the server over to make the request. When he came back with said permission granted, I think our server looked more relieved than me! After--again--calling on my husband to locate the closest Wendy's, I took a 15-20 minute round trip to purchase a nice, safe, tasty meal: a plain baked potato and a small chili. To appease my self-pity and brighten my mood, I also swung into a local "farmer's market" grocery store (Sprout's) and purchased four delicious, gluten-free cupcakes with amazing vanilla frosting. (Did I mention this was actually a surprise birthday party, and everyone would soon be enjoying slices of delicious, gluten-filled, chocolate sheet cake?) At the last minute, I also threw in a copy of my favorite magazine (Real Simple) because, you know, I "deserved" it.

When I got back to the restaurant, my family was just getting their food, my husband had a Sprite waiting for me, and no one thought twice about me eating something different...except my son, who kept begging for one of my cupcakes, which I flatly denied him. (He is not gluten-free and later ate two large pieces of chocolate cake--so don't feel too sorry for him.) I could have handled this situation a lot of ways, but I am glad I put my big-girl pants on and found a way to get what I needed without ruining the party for everyone else.

The take-away? Never be afraid to ask for what you need--even if that means eating Wendy's food in the middle of a sit-down Mexican restaurant. Your family--and your digestive system--will thank you for it.

Looking for more tips on gluten-free dining? 
Check out my wining & dining page for a list of tips, restaurants to try, and places to avoid!

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