I've been ordering "off the menu" for MANY years now. Very few times do I become uncomfortable doing so. Mostly I enjoy a fabulous "clean" meal with no worries about after effects that have the potential to rob me for at least the next day or so with GI distress.
I know many people wonder how they can eat out at restaurants when they have food restrictions, but I am here to tell you it's really quite simple. Sometimes you might even get an incredible surprise meal, like I just did.
I was out for lunch recently and ordered "grilled chicken with sauteed spinach". Now this was not the first time I've ordered this. But this was the first time I was surprised by a gourmet version of a simple request. In the past, I've literally gotten a piece of grilled chicken and a side of sauteed spinach. If I'm being truthful, it's sometimes disappointing if the chicken is highly processed or very dry. Knowing I will go on to enjoy the rest of my day symptom free though, dry or not, makes it worth it every time. (I do usually skip the overly processed fake chicken). Regardless, I always practice gratitude by remembering It's about what I'm gaining and not what I'm missing out on.
But my recent surprise was very different when this meal showed up. I was so surprised and reminded that food restrictions can be quite exciting if the chef gets creative and puts in the thought and care to still cook up something he/she feels would be a home run for his customer. I made sure to pass on my appreciation and gratitude to the chef. It was delicious.
Basic tips for eating out with food restrictions:
- Be a food spotter. See what they serve and what you can alter from the menu.
- Don't be afraid to ask.
- If you see they have pistachio crusted pesto salmon with cous cous and roasted carrots, but you're gluten and dairy free, don't be shy to ask if it's possible to make grilled salmon and hold the cous cous. They might even substitute the cous cous for another vegetable you like.
- Always ask with a smile!
- Call ahead and see if they can make alternate versions to accommodate you.
- Remember how much eating this way gives you freedom from unwanted symptoms and notice all that you're gaining rather than what you think you're giving up.
- Have fun seeking out GF restaurants in your area and eat there.
Some NYC Favorites are:
- The Little Beet Table also in Chicago and their more casual options around town The Little Beet
- Paleo Friendly and very delicious: Hu Kitchen