If you are like me and you are a picky eater and/or have a food intolerance, you have likely heard this question before. Oh how I envy you who can eat whatever you like. For me, I come in a delightful package of several food issues plus very particular food likes. I am gluten intolerant and am not supposed to eat soy (due to an illness). I also don’t like meat/meat products/meat flavored things or mushrooms. Sometimes, when I’m going out, all I feel like saying is:
“Hello, my name is Rebecca.
I am a picky eater.”
But that mentality really only makes it no fun to eat out! At home, I get to cook up delicious meals all the time which is fantastic. When friends invite me to go out, however, it could cause the hangry to come out. So here are my tips for all you picky eaters or people suffering from a legitimate food intolerance to enjoy going out:
- If at all possible, offer to pick the restaurant! This puts you in control to ensure there is something you could eat there as well. And no one really likes making decisions so it should be easy to convince your friends.
- If you know where you are going, especially if you didn’t pick it, study the menu. I typically already know what I am going to order before I get there. This is because I want to make sure that if the restaurant A) does not have any food I can eat that I try to come up with an alternative and that B) I limit the amount of stress that I, personally, associate with trying to figure out what you can eat when nothing is a really great option.
- Contact the restaurant. If they don’t have a menu online or it doesn’t provide lots of information, feel free to contact them and ask! They may have a gluten free menu or a labeling system for dairy free that is just not on their website.
- Once you get to the restaurant, tell the waiter about any food intolerance issues. Again, they may have a special menu or list of items for that. At least, though, they will be able to tell the chef in case you need any specific preparations. The sooner you tell them, the better.
- If you get somewhere and you can’t eat, don’t sweat it and get creative! Maybe you just order a bunch of sides or appetizers. You can also say you are going to eat at home and just came to grab a drink. Most of your friends won’t think twice about this. And, ultimately, you should surround yourself with people who care about you enough that they understand the struggle, don’t judge you for it (although they may tease), and will try to be conscientious about picking the restaurant with you in mind anyways. The last thing you should let happen is for food issues to cause you to ruin precious time with your friends!
Honestly, eating out, even with lots of food issues (some of my own doing) has gotten a lot easier. At first, I would get really stressed out about it if I couldn’t find something to eat. Now, I do my homework and focus on the people I am eating with instead of the food I’m eating. Because that’s what it is all about anyways, right?!