Food chemical intolerances can complicate your life, but none more so than when you need to eat out. It is hard enough to restructure your whole diet and relearn everything you know about healthy eating, but trying to convey the message to wait staff, friends or family can be a mission! So, how do you survive special occasions with food intolerances?
My husband and I have made the lifestyle choice to eat out on most weekends. The variety on most menu’s is limited for me and it can sometimes be like playing Russian Roulette, however it is a time out we both enjoy. An added bonus is that my son also learns how to behave in this environment, practice his table manners and if he’s lucky there will be a play area for him to run around in.
As I said previously, the options open to me are generally slim pickings. Some restaurants can be difficult if they do not have knowledgeable staff or a psychotic chef who thinks you will steal their recipe (yes seriously!!).
On some magical occasions I can find something sensational. We have found many gems where the restaurants have created dishes for me, tweaked the menu or the poor waitstaff have grilled the chef (pardon the pun) on all ingredients till their feet have worn out going back and forth to the kitchen.
Weddings are another minefield. Recently, I had to call a reception hall so I could work out an appropriate menu. I loath to do this which is weird because it shouldn’t be something to worry about, but of course you do. Why? Because for some reason you don’t want to be a ‘pain’. Considering the alternative though, you go ahead and you get through it.
I love a great wedding organiser. Not only did I want to be one when I was younger but they really do work for their money. This particular wedding organiser spent 1.5 hours on the phone with me to find something, ANYTHING, that would be suitable for me. We finally managed it though and that girl received a glowing reference from me.
The hardest part of a wedding though for me personally is the free flowing wine. I have overcome the hurdle of the preservatives (why exactly do they put them in there – for the pleasure of the hangover maybe?). There are some great drops out there that reduce the preservatives in the wine which are in convenient purse size bottles, however I still have that little issue with the actual grapes they put in there 🙁
With intolerances it is the build up that is the enemy and also the reason why they are so hard to diagnose. I can have a glass or two of red wine without a problem, however if I pair it with another intolerance item such as tomatoes I will be as sick as a dog for days. So the problem with wine specifically is that the more glasses you have the more build up you have that pushes your defences down. Now anyone that enjoys a glass of wine or two would know that the alcohol also comes into play and takes your best intentions and throws them out of the window. So, the fabulous idea you had of stopping after the first glass or two seems to get overridden with the new idea to let your hair down and party!!! Oh, and don’t forget that obligatory glass of champagne for toasting – I’m in heaven and hell at the same time.
The absolute worst though is friends and family. The main reason is that you just don’t want to put them out or be a burden. At least at a restaurant or wedding you are paying for the service and quality of food, however friends and family are usually casual or spur of the moment affairs. If they are more formal and planned you still feel ill at ease because you have a list as long as your body that you are unable to eat! It also took you FOREVER to find some decent tasting recipes yourself so how are they going to deal with it?
Although there are many hurdles in dealing with your food chemical intolerances, there are also ways to survive and I have put together a list that has helped me in the hope it may help you:
- Get over it! Ask, ask, ask about all the ingredients.
- Seriously, for a moment of embarrassment or awkwardness is it really worth a week in bed?
- There really are some pluses such as actually liking what your served when you have had a dish specifically prepared for you.
- There are some places where you are completely stuffed! In these cases the key is to plan – the problem is to remember! Make a note in your
- diary, pack some snacks or even a main meal if required.
- Know your boundaries and make a decision. There are times where my willpower and reasoning just won’t hold up and I have made the decision to
- indulge “just a bit”. Obviously I won’t bend on things that turn me into Linda Blair from the exorcist (you know head spinning and projectile
- green….well you get the picture) but I will reschedule the next day and accept that I will be less than par – kinda like a hangover but one
- helluva lot worse.
- When your family and friends know that eating and drinking the wrong things can make you sick for a day or several weeks, they want to ensure
- they provide for you. Don’t think of yourself as a burden. All they want is for you to enjoy yourself with them and fretting about food all day
- is a much bigger burden on them than asking for some alternatives to be available.
- Remember, there may be some slip ups, but you have come so far. A sick day here and there rather than almost every day is a big accomplishment.
Have you ever had to deal with dietary requirements (personal, friend or acquaintance)? Tell us about your experience.