eating out at restaurant with food sensitivities

Following a restrictive eating plan is necessary when one suffers from multiple food sensitivities. Often, a strange phenomenon occurs. These individuals not only eat restrictively, but simultaneously turn into hermit crabs! No more eating for pleasure, social events, traveling, exploring new restaurants, etc. They lock themselves in their homes and live in a state of fear and deprivation.

Now, this hermit-phase may go on for some period of time, but eventually they are faced with the reality that this totally SUCKS! The good news is that you can eat out and enjoy your life even while living with multiple food sensitivities.

Top 5 Tips for Eating Out with Multiple Food Sensitivities:

  1. Be Assertive

    • Avoid the expectation that this experience should be easy…because it is not. Be okay with vocalizing to the people you are dining with and your server exactly what you need for your meal. Take the fear of being high maintenance and throw it out the window.
    • Use an assertive voice and express your needs. “Excuse me, sir. I have a number of food sensitivities I am required to avoid. Here is a list [show a pocket size list of your reactive foods]. Please help me to order a delicious meal while continuing to avoid the foods on this list.” 
    • If the food comes out incorrectly, do not fear speaking up. Request the changes you need. Remember, you are the one who will pay the price later (upset stomach, diarrhea, migraine, stuffy nose, etc.) if you do not follow your diet plan.
  2. Review Before You Go

    • This tip relates not only to the restaurant, but also the food you choose. First, pick out at least 3 restaurants in your area that you feel accommodate your dietary needs. Call them ahead of time and speak to the manager to find out if the kitchen will be able to make substitutions to menu items. Then, when you are asked to go out to eat, you’ll be able to throw out your “approved” suggestions before anyone even blinks!
    • Next, once the restaurant is chosen, review the menu prior to showing up. Have an idea of what you may order before you even arrive. This brainstorming activity increases your likelihood of adhering to your diet plan.
  3. Know Your Options

    • It is wise to know how to replace or modify a dish so that it complies with your dietary needs. Know the options if you must make changes. For instance, if a dish you want includes fried chicken and you are unsure of the spices, oil, and breading ingredients used, then play it safe and request that the chicken is baked or grilled. Or, if the vegetable medley is sauteed in butter and you are aiming to avoid all dairy, then ask that the veggies be sauteed in olive oil or simply steamed.
  4. BYO…

    • Bring Your Own…whatever! For some, this may mean bringing tamari sauce or coconut aminos when eating at an Asian restaurant to avoid using soy sauce that contains wheat. For others this may mean bringing a small bottle of “approved-ingredient” salad dressing to avoid unapproved ingredients in conventional salad dressings. The point is: Be prepared. Don’t be embarrassed about how others may perceive your behavior. They may even be jealous and ask to use your alternative product!
  5. Don’t Show Up On Empty 

    • Most importantly, avoid showing up STARVING to any restaurant when you are on a restrictive eating plan. This is a recipe for disaster. Being super hungry, the sensible, rational, logical, calm part of the brain does not operate as efficiently. Instead, a beastly, wild animal sneaks out and attacks any food within an arm reach [hangry]! Have a small snack before you go to the restaurant. That way you are more likely to adhere to your food plan and make the smart [yet hard] choices.

While eating out on with multiple food sensitivities is no easy feat, it can be accomplished with smart planning, discipline, and self-control. Don’t let the hermit crab phenomenon happen to you!

If you need help or support identifying food sensitivities or following a restrictive eating plan, find out how I can help you! Contact me today to schedule a session. 

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