4 Tips to Eat Out With Food Restrictions

Eating with friends, family, and colleagues is part of our culture. Just because you have food restrictions does not mean you need to become a hermit and never eat out.

Many people are worried about standing out or being an inconvenience to the restaurant and thus sufferer the ramifications of not speaking up, BUT it doesn’t need to be that way and you can thoroughly enjoy the company and food without it thwarting your efforts to heal your body.

Here are the top 4 tips for eating out with food sensitivities or allergies:

Here are the top 4 tips for eating out with food sensitivities or allergies_.png

1️.When you can, plan ahead.

Chose a restaurant ahead of time, and check out the menu at the restaurant. Make a short list of what you’d like to order that you believe should be okay with your body.

Then call the restaurant to ask if they can accommodate your dietary restrictions and see if the item(s) you’ve chosen are able to be modified for your needs. They may even have suggestions you didn’t know were possible.

2️. Key words/ phrases to use when ordering:

  • When ordering be sure to reiterate to the server your allergies so the “ticket” has it on there and the chef takes extra precaution in preparing your food.

  • Order your meat “dry,” many restaurants baste the cooked meat with butter. The preparation in the menu likely will not describe this, so it helps to remind them by asking for the meat prepared “dry, with no added butter for basting.”

  • Order your vegetables, “steamed,” or if sauteed, ask for them to be sauteed in olive oil, no butter. If you get them steamed ask for olive oil on the side with salt and lemon juice so you can liven them up on your plate and increase the absorption of the nutrients over eating them simply steamed.

  • Ask to swap things out. Does the protein from one dish sound more appealing and the side from another dish fit your dietary needs? Ask to swap the two out. Generally this is not a big deal for the kitchen and they are happy to accomodate.

  • Ask to double up your veg. If your meal comes with grains or potatoes as a side and a serving of vegetables but you need to avoid grains or nightshades, simply ask to double up on the vegetables and eliminate the starchy side.

Lastly, remember your please and thank yous. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and yes this is just good manners, but in doing this it also acknowledges that the restaurant and staff are going above and beyond to assure you have a good experience and makes everyone (including you) feel good.

3️.When at fast food restaurant, gas station, or airport Choose the item(s) that will do the least harm.

Gas station / Airport

These places often have options like: a piece of fruit, hummus cups, hard boiled eggs, kid fruit/veg pouches, jerky, popcorn, juice and seltzer. These options will always be better than a bag of MSG laden Doritos or food dye and sugar filled m&m’s.

Fast food restaurant

Ask for the burger “protein style,” without the bun, hold the “sauce” cuz who knows what’s really in there and hold the cheese, should you be avoiding dairy.

Alternatively get the salad, it’s premade, and may or may not contain protein, but you can always ask for a hamburger or grilled chicken breast solo to go with. Dressings get the oil and vinegar to minimize sugar and dairy, and should some toppings not be on your diet, do your best to remove them manually.

4. Own that you are different, and that is okay!

My favorite Japanese restaurant didn’t have coconut aminos or tamari (gluten free soy sauce) when I first changed my diet years back. Initially I just ordered take out so I could eat my sushi/sashimi with my preferred dipping sauce in the comfort of my own home without feeling like I was some weirdo.

Then I got brave and brought a bottle with me when I went out to eat. The owner saw that I did this, and she, without me saying a thing, decided to get Tamari for those like me who came to the restaurant. After this one occurrence every time I showed up to the restaurant, the waitress without even saying a thing, simply brought the bottle of tamari to the table along with my extra ginger I always request!

If the restaurant can’t accommodate your needs, bring what you need, don’t apologize for your needs, own it and still go out and live your life and enjoy the company of your friends and family over food and drink. To this day when I go out for wine tasting or go to a wine bar I know doesn’t have a charcuterie plate without gluten free / grain free crackers, I bring my own! No one says a thing, actually my crackers usually disappear faster than the tasteless water crackers that are provided.

Feel like you still need help navigating the restaurant scene?

To help my client’s stay on track, I offer something unique that I don’t know if many (or any) other practitioners are doing.

This is real time accountability helps clients learn to listen to their body on a daily basis through unlimited email AND text support. (I mean, who does that?) and also help them choose those meals when eating out.

Interested in learning more? I’d like to invite you in to a free 15 minute consultation.