A good friend of mine said recently, “I find it really embarrassing to eat out at a restaurant with my new husband now that I know I need to avoid wheat/gluten and dairy. It’s such a hassle ordering. Could you write an article on how to make it easier to comply while eating out?”
If you know that you need to avoid certain foods to feel your best it can be challenging. Especially if you are an entrepreneur, business owner or executive who is on the go all the time. Eating out is how you survive. Or, maybe you’re retired and travel a lot. Either way, it can be a challenge to order without making the other guests feel uncomfortable, AND still feel confident you are getting what you ask for.
I know how hard it can be because I do it all the time. I remember going out to eat with a friend of mine years ago, before I was so fanatical myself. It took her 10 minutes to explain to the waiter what she couldn’t eat. I thought, “You must be kidding! She has to live like this? Is she a hypochondriac? What a hassle.” Now I understand and am much more compassionate.
First you must recognize that no one understands how important it is that you continue feeling great. Restaurant owners and their wait staff are probably not as health conscious as you (most of America is NOT), so even though they respond to you with their best intentions, they may be wrong when they say there is no wheat in the bean soup you are eating.
- Take some snacks with you just in case, or eat something beforehand to keep your blood sugar balanced
- Eat what you’re sure is OK and enjoy every bite
- Don’t go for the vegetarian option because while it may sound like it has a lot of veggies, it’s usually just a pasta dish
- Choose baked or grilled meats
- Just say “No” to sauces
- Opt for olive oil and vinegar or a couple of lemon slices to squeeze for dressing
- Choose vegetables stir fried in water or olive oil if you cannot “do” butter
- Go for the brothy soups not the creamy soups
- Don’t go for anything breaded, ever
- Be creative by combining appetizers that look fabulous like raw oysters and a beet/goat cheese salad, or add some chicken or fish to a yummy looking salad
- Go for the corn tortillas instead of the flour
- Always have some AllerGzyme on hand just in case
To keep from embarrassing anyone at your table try the following:
- Call ahead or check the restaurant’s website for a menu to figure out what you’re going to have before you go there. You can always call and ask questions ahead of time so everyone’s on the same page when you order
- Create a laminated business card (many of them) that has the word “NO” in bold at the top, and then list out with bullet points the foods that you have to avoid. Hand the card to the waiter when she arrives at your table and let her know that your meal cannot contain any of those foods – then you don’t have to list them out and make a big scene
- Try one of these websites to find gluten-free restaurants where you are traveling to for dining:
- Gluten Free Restaurant Registry: http://www.glutenfreeregistry.com
- Gluten Free Restaurant book and resources: http://www.triumphdining.com
- Gluten Free Travel Site: http://www.glutenfreetravelsite.com/restaurants/
Get to know the restaurants in your area that serve dishes that work for you – work with the owners to create a few menu items that you can eat and LOVE!
Remember that dining out does not mean not tasty. It’s about the pleasure and enjoying every bite. Bon appetit!