Anyone who has ever followed a specific eating plan knows that when it comes to eating out it can get tricky, especially if the people you are eating out with are not following the same eating plan. As someone who has tried a lot of different ways of eating (a girl’s gotta do her research), I am kind of an expert when it comes to this.
Do Your Research!
Whenever possible check out the restaurant menu and website, before going. Checking out what is on the menu will let you know what is possible for you to eat or drink. Also, it will give you an idea of how much the restaurant can accommodate or customize your meals. Reviews are great for this too.
Lastly, know what you are eating. Seems obvious, but if you are avoiding gluten then it will be helpful for everyone if know what sauces or condiments contain it. Do not relay on the staff at the restaurant to know.
Tip: For any serious allergies or foods that must be avoided, call the restaurant and discuss it with the staff. It is always better to give them a heads up before you arrive, especially if they are not able to or willing to accommodate special requests.
Keep it Simple!
When I am eating out and I cannot find something that is 100% in-line with what I am eating, I pick the item that requires the least amount of changes. This is easier for the staff and there is less of a chance of the order getting messed up. I will also pick a food that I can disassemble myself if needed. For example, I can easily pick croutons out of a salad vs. trying to eat around breading on a piece of meat.
Don’t Go Starving!
It seems odd to eat before going to a restaurant, but if you know that the food options will be limited then have a snack. Showing up starving to a place with limited options is only going to lead to you eating something you didn’t intend to. I recommend this anytime someone is going to an event, party, or restaurant. It would take the willpower of a martyr to not indulge, when starving, with tons of food around them. Thus, save yourself suffering and have a small bite first.
Ask for What You Need, Nicely!
Anyone, who has worked in food service knows that making accommodations for someone, who has special requests is fine as long as they are being polite and respectful. Keep in mind that the people who are waiting on you:
- Are working and likely you are not the first or last person they will help.
- You have no idea how their day is going and even if they seem less than excited to assist you, be patient and kind.
- Ask for what you need simply. They probably do not need a whole explanation of why you cannot have Asparagus. If they want to know they will ask. If it is a serious allergy, then, by all means, tell them, “I cannot have Asparagus because I will break out in hives.” and leave it at that.
- Tips and Praise. If you are happy with your meal and experience, then reflecting it in a tip, letting your server and the manager know, and/or leaving a review is always a nice way to show that. Most people in the food service work really hard and I know I always appreciated when the people I was serving took the time to tell me.
Note: One thing I have noticed is that sometimes having diet restrictions means I do not get to eat the best meal a restaurant has to offer. That’s okay, I will survive. Keep this in mind and it will help with any expectations you may have.
Do you have a special diet? How do you survive eating out? Post it below!
Eating Out & Happy,