Jennifer Slack

Stand Up for Your “Gluten-free” Self!

by Jennifer Slack on January 31st, 2011


Interesting experience over this past weekend.  I went to a restaurant that offers gluten free pizza and buns and inquired with the bartender if they had gluten free beer. 

He proceeded to inform me that there is no such thing as gf beer because gf beer isn’t REAL beer and was a bit jerky about the whole thing.  He informed me that he brews his own beer, so he knows what real beer is. 

I was quite offended at this response, as I was ordering gluten free beer out of necessity, not out of desire.  I used to love beer and have some favorites that I really miss and the last thing I needed was for him to put that in my face. 

So, I let him know I didn’t like the way he responded and that all I needed was a “yes” or “no” answer.  I told him that I used to drink beer and I understand the difference without him explaining it to me and that him answering in such a manner really made me upset.  He maintained the same attitude, so I walked away and went to my table with my friends, trying to let this go. 

However, something I said must have made a difference because he sent a written apology to me at my table and offered me a free drink.  He was really sincere, and it made me feel good that I was able to help someone increase their awareness and sensitivity.  I spoke to him before leaving and he was very apologetic and said that he let being a bartender and beer brewer go to his head and hadn’t thought about the affect his words might have on someone with my restrictions.  He seemed to understand that he was inconsiderate and will hopefully respond to others with gf needs much more appropriately in the future. 

I also felt better that I said something and that we worked it out because this is an establishment that I like and want to return to.

[Editor's Note: With media hyping gluten-free as a fad diet, the type of response this bartender displayed is common - but it is still unacceptable. The moral is to always stand up for yourself and communicate your needs when it comes to gluten-free. Some people need to hear your perspective in order to change their own.]

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 Author Information: Jennifer Leeson, Denver, CO
Denver Gluten-free Examiner at Examiner.com
Jennifer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an expert on changing negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. After being diagnosed with Celiac Disease last October, she learned there was more to transforming her life around food beyond knowing what to eat and what not to eat. There were unexpected social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that arose. Since learning how to cope with these obstacles herself, she has begun teaching others how to cope effectively with the barriers that interfere with successfully changing one’s entire lifestyle around food. You can reach Jennifer at her e-mail address.


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4 Responses to “Stand Up for Your “Gluten-free” Self!”

  1. Danielle says:

    I had an experience like this once. I went in to a gluten-free bakery that assured my aunt that the muffins were gluten-free AND corn free. I’m a skeptic, so I went in to double check. I asked them:
    “Can i read the ingridients to the gluten-free cupcakes?”
    The person went to the next in charge, but first he responded “I don’t think so”
    Then, another employee asked me “What are you looking for?”
    And i said “The ingredients”
    She said “But what in the ingredients”
    And i said “Corn.”
    And then they said “I dont think there is any corn but we can ask the chef to double check” And i said okay.
    I asked the chef and he said “Nope, no corn.” And I said “Are you sure?” And he said “yes.”
    So then i said, well what about the frosting? Is there any corn syrup, dextrose, xanthan gum….
    And he gave me this BS about “using minimal finest ingredients to make high quality frosting”
    So then I said “What about the confectioners sugar that you use?” and he said “what?” And i said “the powdered sugar, you use powdered sugar in your frosting right?” And then he said “yes..” And then I cut him off a bit and said “is there any corn starch in the confectioners sugar? sometimes they put it in there to prevent caking.”
    He thought for a moment and responded “oh.. yes I do believe there is a small amount of corn starch.”

    I just gave a half-nod and walked out. Disappointed and pissed off. I was with my whole family so it was pretty obvious he just lost some customers.
    The part that annoyed me so much is that they don’t carry lists of ingredients which make it MUCH easier and more hassle free for an intolerant customer. At least they offered a gluten free cupcake so i guess that’s a step in the right direction but there are many people with multiple food sensitivities and the “Finest ingredients” crap isnt going to cut it.

    I know a girl who is extremely allergic to corn, and injesting it can threaten her life. It very much upsets me to know that she could have easily entered that bakery and taken their first word for it and gone into anaphylactic shock.

    Should I really have to interrogate someone to get a straight answer about the contents of a product? Jeez.

  2. Louise says:

    Im really enjoying your articles. This one in particular. I recently went out with friends to dinner. The restaurant we went to I had been to before so “I thought” it would be ok, but when I walked over to and told the manager of my allergy just so they would be aware (and not cause a scene at the table)he asked me to leave!”Go somewhere else” he said to me, several times! I was shocked to say the least! Not wanting to ruin my friends night out, I went back to the table and just ordered a salad and shrimp cocktail which were fine. I’m still angry over this managers behavior and I will NEVER visit this restaurant again because of the way I was treated. It’s hard enough living like this, I don’t need to be demeaned in the process.

  3. Jen Miller says:

    Way to go sister. If I can go somewhere and have a gfree pizza and beer…life is AWESOME!!!! I have a homebrewer friend that started experimenting with sorghum and rice only beers…can’t wait!!! I think the majority of beers in Africa are made without wheat or barley too. There are times I’d love to have a Blue Moon like I would have 2 years ago…but it isn’t worth the pain!!!! Glad your bartender gets it now!

  4. Jennifer,

    This beer brewer and bartender only partially knows what he is talking about anyway. Gluten Free beers are brewed with the same process as a gluten beer just using gluten free grains. It is still beer and there are some very good one out there. There is a review of the ones that I have been able to try thus far on the Gluten Free Beer Associations website. Part of this affliction is definitely educating an uninformed public. Together, we can make a difference!

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