5 Tips for Eating at Restaurants If You Have Food Restrictions

As if living with dietary restrictions isn’t difficult enough, there is then the issue of going out to eat at restaurants to make matters even more stressful. If you think about it, when eating in a restaurant, the fate of your meal rests in the hands of your server and the cooks. Try not to worry. Fortunately, communicating your restrictions and requests to your server may not be as complicated as it seems. Here are five tips for you to use while you are out:

1. Do not just assume that your server knows what specific terms or phrases mean. For example, he may think he knows what the term ‘vegan’ means, or what the phrase ‘gluten-free’ implies, but in actuality, he may not have any real idea. Therefore, you need to be specific. Tell your server exactly what you are allergic to or what you are avoiding: eggs, cheese, wheat, butter, etc. Double and triple check if you want to. You can even ask your server to confirm with the kitchen staff to ensure that your meal will absolutely not have the ingredient, or ingredients, that you are trying to avoid.

2. Modify an already-existing item on the menu. Rather than completely making something up, try choosing something off the menu that is easy to modify to your dietary needs. For example, if it is dairy that you are trying to avoid, request a pasta dish with olive oil instead of cream sauce. If you have a gluten allergy, simply order a burger without the bun. Keep in mind that the cooks in the kitchen are already very familiar with the menu, so simply modifying something on it will be the easiest for them, and in turn, the safest for you.

3. Ask about ingredients. As mentioned previously, never assume anything when you are out to eat at a restaurant. For example, do not assume that a dressing is made without eggs or that a soup is made without cream. If it is, and you haven’t asked to make sure, this makes you responsible for the mistake. Don’t take any chances; just ask about anything and everything you are thinking of getting. Believe me, your server will be much less annoyed by this, than if he or she brings you your meal, only for it to be incorrect.

4. Conduct some research before hand. Especially if you have a handful of, or extremely serious dietary restrictions, doing some research and finding out what types of foods the restaurant serves is a must. Afterall, you don’t want to arrive at the restaurant only to find that you cannot eat anything on the menu, do you? These days, almost every restaurant posts its menu online, so this should be relatively easy research to do. As a rule of thumb, try to find at least three options that may be edible in your book, just in case!

5. Be as nice as possible. While some servers are extremely accommodating to restricted eaters, others can be quite difficult. Whichever one of these servers you end up with, always try to treat them with as much kindness as possible. Being calm, polite, appreciative, and grateful really can make all the difference in the service you receive in return. You never know- with a little bit of kindness, your once difficult server may end up going above and beyond to meet your needs.


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