Whether you are avoiding certain foods due to sensitivities/allergens or simply wish to be discerning about what you put into your body, eating out whilst doing so can be challenging to say the least. This article offers a few tips which may help make the process easier and even enjoyable.
One can often feel like a nuisance when making special food requests or stating certain dietary preferences but this needn't be the case - especially when priceless assets like health and peace of mind are at stake. The key is to express your needs - and the reasons behind them - clearly, briefly and politely.
- Call ahead: Speaking to the manager of the restaurant before your visit will prevent any potential awkwardness on the day. The responses you receive will also help you decide which restaurants to favour - or rule out - in future. You could draw up a list of questions before your call to ensure that your most important needs are met. Asking if something can be prepared from scratch to exclude any allergens is a great place to start. It is also often possible to view the menus of any restaurants you like the look of online beforehand.
- Keep it simple: Grilled meat, fish or seafood and a salad without any ready-made dressing accompanied by olive oil and vinegar or lemon wedges is a foolproof option that can easily be prepared at any restaurant. Depending on how cautious you wish to be, it is worth bearing in mind that restaurants cook with rapeseed oil for the most part and it is not as healthy as it is reported to be. Trim off any fat from non-organic meat. Animals that have been routinely given antibiotics and growth hormones store these substances in their adipose (fatty) tissues. Avoid sauces as they tend to be less obvious sources of allergens and additives.
- Bring your own: If you have been invited to dine at the home of a friend or family member, again, calling ahead of time to explain things is best. Offer to make something that meets your needs and can be be shared with other guests.
- Eat before your outing: If all else fails, make yourself a little something to eat at home and - if possible - top this off later with a salad at the restaurant (or at the home of your host) just in case it turns out that nothing else on the menu is suitable.
What strategies have you found to be most helpful? Please let me know in the comments section below.