5 Tips for Dining Out with Food Sensitivities

Oct 31, 2022 | Therapeutic Diets

You just started an elimination diet (based on your food sensitivities test results). There’s a list of foods you can’t eat. You sit down at your favorite restaurant. You look at the menu. But have no idea what’s safe to eat.

In that moment, you realize that going out to eat is trickier than avoiding candy on Halloween.

Here are five tips to make sure you aren’t “glutened” or “contaminated” when dining outside the home.

Choose restaurants with GF icons on the menu

When a restaurant intentionally advertises gluten free (GF) items, it means they know what gluten is. And they know how to prepare food without cross-contamination. So there’s a good chance they train their staff in food allergies. In other words, when you ask “what entrees are gluten-free?” the wait staff doesn’t look at you with a blank stare.

Want a quick win? Here’s a list of GF restaurants.

Pick what you’re going to eat before you go

Do your due diligence. Take a few minutes to review the menu ahead of time. Pick out the items that you suspect will be safe. Have back-ups. In this way, you will not feel pressured to make a critical food decision quickly.

Call ahead to confirm dishes are safe

Seriously, pick up the phone. Call the restaurant. Tell them you super excited to dine at their place. But have severe reactions to xyz foods (a.k.a. food sensitivities). And ask them for guidance on what to order. Maybe even give them the heads up when you’re planning to stop by, so they know you’re coming.

Happy waiter showing menu to a guest who came with friends in a cafe.

Ask to speak to the chef

If you don’t have time to call ahead. And the wait staff is less than helpful in guiding a safe choice. It’s OK to ask to speak to the head chef. The head chef is in charge, so knows exactly how to make each dish. Including hidden ingredients. You may feel like you’re being “extra.” But your health is worth it. I give you permission to stand up for your needs.

Go at the least busy time (and day)

If your wait person has 10 tables to cover, they just won’t have the attention to attend to your request. By choosing a quiet time, you’re more likely to get the personalized guidance you need to choose the best dish for your food sensitivities.

Above all, trust yourself. You’ve got this!

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