Tuesday, April 24, 2012

No Outside Food or Drinks

Eating Gluten Free at the Carnival

This past Sunday was a gorgeous day in Central Florida:  A perfect day to enjoy the outdoors.  We decided to head out to a seafood festival on the east coast.  I love seafood and it can be gluten free, but of course at a festival there is little chance of any foods being safe.  It still amazes me how all of these happy, fun places have become a place of stress for me.

On our way to the festival we stopped at a Publix for some cash and for me to pick up a few items I could bring with me to eat (my at home stash was running low).  I decided on a Lara bar, a banana and a bag of pistachios.  Yeah!  I did opt for a Chocolate Chip Brownie Lara bar….one of my Go To Eats when I am anticipating a “feeling sorry for myself” moment.

From Publix we drove on using  Map Quest to find the festival.  We arrived just before noon and there was the big luminous, anticipated by Me sign, “NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINKS”.

 Having kids for a long time took away my intimidation towards these signs.  I have had a lot of practice in bringing snacks into places for them when they were babies and toddlers, ready and willing to stand up for my kids being picky eaters and needing to eat at any time.  They also though could eat other stuff if needed as they had no food allergies.  Spring forward and I have a new intimidation…if they take away my food, I have nothing. It is amazing how the need to survive feeling kicks in once your food sources are severely threatened.

I held on to the hope that I might be able to eat something, but you must always be prepared with a food intolerance issue/allergy.   Bringing safe food choices everywhere you go is a must.

Back to the festival:  We entered the front tent where the seafood was going to be sold.   They did not have separate vendors selling different types of seafood, which we all found quite weird.  It’s a Seafood Festival for goodness sakes, right?  But it was all from one group and from the looks of the Menu board none would be safe for me.   I do need to add that I did not bother asking. 

The only other vendors were the Midway Ride food booths scattered around the property:  burgers, chicken on a stick and Italian sausage, buttered popcorn and cotton candy, ice cream, and fried desserts (think Oreos) as well as the booth for Elephant Ears and Funnel Cakes .  Gluten, Dairy, Dairy, Gluten and more Gluten.  Yes, I am dairy free too now and about this time I was feeling my inner Whining emerging.  I try to keep her at bay, but during moments like this it is rather difficult. And yes, I’ve been reading Fifty Shades, can you tell?  Only my Inner Goddess is mainly focused on Food 24/7.

We walked around the carnival area, the kids riding rides, “K” enjoying some crazy ones for the first time ever, me staring at the food stands, and no one else staring at the food stands until  it was time to eat.  The family chose a burger, a chicken on a stick and a grilled Italian sausage sandwich.  OK, so none of this stuff is good for you anyways, but it’s moments like this that you feel very left out and just want to be normal again…..Not “Special” as I now sarcastically tell my husband I am, but “Normal” I wanna be normal for a day, ok, no really, a week or two would be nice.

 As everyone is ordering I say, “Just get a water for me please”.  Does the food vendor notice there are 4 of us ordering only 3 meals??  I certainly do.

While the family is munching on their gluten….I munch on my banana and my Lara bar…thank God it is a brownie!  Have I mentioned how much I love the Lara bar brownie?  Well, I do, especially during moments like this…I really appreciate someone having made something delicious that I can savor for a moment or two before the silent whining reemerges.  Anyway, it only took me a second and then I am looking around and wow, I think I see something Gluten Free!!  I’m reading …..”Whine, No it says Wine, Wine, Yea! And at 1pm in an ocean of gluten this sounds really wonderful right now!”  Alright, so I did not have one….but at least they were nice enough to offer wine amongst the bottles of Gluten.

My husband wondered later why I was so quiet while we were out.  “Oh, I was just having lots of conversations with myself.  Sorry honey.”  It still surprises him sometimes that I still have issues a year later as I often present myself as "an I've got this" kind of person.  Most of the time I feel this way now, but on days like this not so much.

While I was having one of my "Inner Whiny Goddess: Why Am I Gluten Free? Moments"….I was dreaming about the perfect fair, art festival (that’s more my style) and carnival for my kids….

And it goes like this:

1.       An ice cream cart by Silk Coconut with gfree, soy free Oreo cookie crumbs to make a “CocoFlurry”.  Gfree ice cream cones and dairy free chocolate sauces are a must as well.

2.       A Jules Gluten Free cart with the best brownies ever, taste like girl scout gluten free cookies, pretzels, a King Cake and Beignets! And how cute would her cart be?   Pink and orange stripes….no red and yellow needed to make me mental  for food. 

3.     A Bald Strawberry Cart from Cape Canaveral, FL featuring all their delicious desserts and gluten free/dairy free sandwiches.  And also burgers and sausages with grass fed beef, Applegate Organic and Natural Meats.

4.       A Fried seafood cart if we must … but fried with gluten free flour.

5.       A grilled seafood cart with grilled veggies to boot. 

6.       A seafood boil cart New Orleans style:  Crab, Crawfish, Shrimp with potatoes, onions, garlic, lemons, and mushrooms.

7.       A snack cart filled with fresh fruit and gfree nutritional bars.  Water, water, water and real fruit juice.

8.       A Green Smoothie Cart – lots of fruit, some hemp shake mix and other gluten free protein mixes to add and greens….lots, and lots of beautiful greens.

Really though ....What's a Carnival Really All About

It used to be all about the rides when I was growing up.  My Dad happened to do taxes for the Carnival guys in Louisiana.  I was one of the lucky ones I thought....unlimited rides for me and my friends. It Really Was Quite Awesome.  I don't remember the food. 

Now as an adult with food intolerances It is unfortunately the Foods that I now focus on, but now that I have had my moment.... I am going to take my own advice.

It is important for us with food intolerances to focus on our improved Life....life does revolve around our food, but we also must not let it overpower or happiness and time with family and friends.  Watch your family and kids soar... just like me when I was a kid....they came for the rides not the food. 

Ignore the "No Outside Food or Drinks" Sign ... stand up for yourself, bring your own food regardless, keep a laminated letter from your doctor to back you up, pout a little but be thankful for good gluten free foods, advocate for all of us with food intolerances, push for more choices, less discrimation, eduacate the world and above all this enjoy your time with your family. 

Eating healthy has given us the chance to continue this ride..... Take your shoes off and Fly a little ... Just maybe stay in a straight line.  Next blog ~ Carnival and Amusement Park Rides that accomodate those with food intolerances.  Hey, hey.. stay tuned. ; )



Gluten Dude said...

Great post. Great attitude. Great advice. And if you do find that perfect carnival, please invite me.

iamjtheblog said...

Thank you so much for writing this post. I feel exactly the same way. I feel like my 4 year old self wants to bust out and throw a tantrum. I have to have some inner dialogue to calm myself but it's difficult. I agree ignore the sign is probably best in our situations. It's not fair but we are our best advocate for ourselves. I have found that if I carry a big purse with many compartments, those folks that might check can't find my stash because of my secret hiding spot. Lol

You're perfect carnival sounds so delish! Thanks again!

wtfCeliac said...

I love your imagined "perfect Carnival". I would go to that! You're right, it is important to remember that not everything is about food, as hard as it may be.

Wendy said...

Gluten Dude, iamjtheblog and wtfCeliac - we would have a fabulous time!

In the mean time ~ we could still go to any fair and enjoy some rants and our Larabar's together. ; )

One topic concerning this that I did not address was all the children with celiac disease.

It should be even more important for them to enjoy a goody at the fair than for us adults. While I was ranting about my 40 something year old self and feeling sorry for myself, I forgot to think about the kids who are already in my shoes.

Festivals should realize how discriminating this is and how left out we feel.....especially the kids.

laura west kong said...

The last time I visited the county fair I was not yet gluten-free, but there was nothing there I would ever eat anyways: deep-fried everything on a stick, artificially colored and flavored high fructose corn syrupy delights, etc.

Because I feel so great when I take extreme control over what I eat, I don't mind hauling my food everywhere I go. I'm still giddy that I even have the energy and ability to go out at all.

Like you I lost all inhibitions about "no outside food or drink" signs long ago when I carried food for my daughter to snack on, as much for her health as for the convenience factor.

Thanks for a fun post!

Wendy said...


Thanks for reading and glad you enjoyed.

I totally agree on the unhealthy food and could easily envision how I would have felt having eaten even a little of it. I can recall always feeling overly full eating crap like that....hints that I have had issues with gluten for more than the 2 known years.

The energy we have gluten free is amazing and usually keeps my whining at bay...it just occasionally slips out still. ; )

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