One thing that I refused to do was sit home and not enjoy my life because of my Celiac disease. Ok, It did take me a couple months to realize I could go out and find places to eat safely. It took time to figure out all the questions to ask, and to really be assertive for myself. Because only me, and the people I'm dining with are going to look out for me. The person who took the reservation, hostess, server, cook, chef, aren't going to look out for me, unless I make a point to them it has to be handed with white glove service. Even then seeing their reaction can determine how the meal will go. When they stare blankly like you spontaneously grew an extra head, and started to speak klingon, I know we need to call a manager over.
We make a point to find new places to try out, regularly. We have our favorites that we always know we can go to, but there have been so many new places opening up, and even just expanding their current offerings we've been expanding our list of places to go.
With any gluten free menu in a shared kitchen you run the risk of cross-contamination, since the kitchen is not dedicated gluten free. You have to assess that yourself and make sure you are comfortable with the place you dine at. I've had my share of cross-contaminations, though they are minimal. I'm pretty picky at picking places! (I can't tell you the last time I ordered something more than a shamrock shake at a McDonald's)
I enjoy traveling, so when we start of list of what we want to do on vacation, we also start a list of "recommended" gluten free menu's, then we just see where we are when we are hungry, and start the food hunt.
I have some really awesome friends who understand and are willing to work around my Celiacs to find places for us to dine out, at least narrow down an area we want to go, and maybe suggest 2-3 options, and tell me to work out the details. We've all found new places to try that before we may have skipped over. All of us have learned from this, and keep learning!
I'll include reviews of places that I've been and how their gluten free menu stacked up, and what we all liked best! Remember make sure to ask all the important questions when sitting down to make sure your meal is prepared and delivered safely!! But don't fear going out and having fun, and living a normal life.