When I first adopted this lifestyle change, I thought eating out was going to be a nightmare. However, I have been really pleasantly surprised at how accommodating restaurants have been. Here I share my top tips for eating out when you suffer from any kind of food intolerance or allergy.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter/waitress if they cater for intolerances (whether that’s dairy, gluten, eggs etc.). I was pleasantly surprised by the number of restaurants and pubs which produce a nice little matrix when you tell them you have an intolerance allowing you to see exactly which menu items contain your nemesis ingredient.
- Always ask the question as soon as you are given the menu. If not, you risk the whole table being ready to order and you having to ask the server who then disappears for 10 minutes to find out. Meanwhile the whole table is staring at you hangrily – I fell foul of this one, never again!
- If you’re in a higher end restaurant, the chances are they can amend anything on the menu to suit your intolerance. Yes you might have to substitute a few things, but if you’re really craving something specific, they will usually go out of their way to cater for you.
- If the dish you really fancy has a mark against it on the intolerance sheet but you think it’s possible to eliminate something in order to make it intolerance free, make sure you ask the question – the chances are, you’ll be right. I was recently in The Blackhouse in Leeds and the waiter asked me if I wanted a side with my tuna steak. I asked what there was that could come dairy free. Looking down the intolerance sheet, he said only chips or sweet potato fries. I knew this was what the sheet said, but I was pretty sure they could serve vegetables with lashings of butter! Needless to say, they could!
- If the person serving you doesn’t sound very confident about whether or not a dish contains your intolerance, stress the importance of knowing and ask them to go and check with the chef.
- If, like me, you are dairy intolerant, there’s no two ways about it, desserts are not your friend. If you ask for the intolerance sheet, the chances are there’ll be a rather off putting X next to every tempting dessert on there. That is unless they can offer you a fruit or sorbet option…
- Don’t fall back on salad as a safe option as quite often there’ll be hidden ingredients in dressings which might contain your trigger food. It’s always worth asking the question.
Have you got any more tips?! I’d love to hear from you!