When you have dietary restrictions, going out to eat can be more stress than enjoyment. However, there are several ways around this. Sometimes, it requires you to forego some standard items on a dish. At other times, it requires you to do a little detective work. All options require just a bit of advanced planning, though. If you have some dietary restrictions, keep the following four tips in mind when you go out to eat.
1. Cut Out Toppings
Sometimes, you don’t actually need to go entirely without. If the offending food is on the top of the dish, just do without it. If you’re dairy-free, for example, and go and get spaghetti, then you can keep the meat sauce and just go without the cheese on top. If you’re going for a salad and are gluten-free, you can make that known to your server and go without croutons. You should also make sure that you go to places that have a wide variety of foods on their menu so that you’re not stuck eating something that you’d rather not eat.
2. Know the Names
People with food sensitivities should educate themselves about the foods that they can’t tolerate. Finding out what other names those foods go by is a good step, according to WebMD
. For example, casein should be a no-no for people with dairy allergies. Many foods have “alternative” names. Learn those that affect you. You should also make sure to ask the restaurant whether or not certain dishes that you’re interested in have them or not.
3. Ask About Vegan, Gluten-Free Options
Even places like Italian restaurants can be okay if you know their menu options. Some, like Ynot Italian
for example, offer the standard Italian fare with plenty of pasta and bread, no-gos for the gluten intolerant. However, they might also have gluten-free and vegan options. This is just one example of how restaurants will accommodate dietary restrictions. If you’re not sure if your favorite restaurant has alternative fare, ask about it. You may be pleasantly surprised about what they do have that you dig in and enjoy alongside your friends who don’t have your same dietary needs.
4. Eat Main Stream
When in doubt, go main stream. Big restaurants like Applebee’s or Olive Garden have tighter controls on their food, in order to keep the menus consistent throughout the country. That being the case, they’re also used to dealing with food requests. Additionally, many times, servers in these restaurants are trained to know what is in each dish so that they can talk with customers knowledgeably about the food.
Dietary restrictions make eating in restaurants a pain instead of the pleasure it should be. If you are among those who must eat a restricted diet, advanced planning is your friend. First, you must know the different names of foods you’re allergic to. Second, you must find out if your favorite restaurants have different options for people on restricted diets. Finally, keep in mind that sometimes keeping something out of your diet is as simple as doing without a particular topping.