How to order food at a restaurant? Here are some healthy TIPS
Ordering food at a restaurant can get tricky for someone who has intolerances to most foods. However, it’s just a matter of managing the situation. After many trials and errors (and many more to come) I’ve found ways to still enjoy eating out with my limited choices and also how to manage the sneaky culprits that wiggle their way onto your plate.
The number one tip for anyone who has intolerances is to become 100% unapologetic about ASKING!!!! Learn how to ask and be specific. It seems like such simple advice but people (especially us polite South Africans) are so fearful of asking because we don’t want to be a ‘pain’.
I’d rather BE A PAIN than BE IN PAIN.
For example, I was once at the start of a new relationship with a guy whom I adored. One night he made me my favorite meal- Salmon and salad. He asked me if he could marinade the salmon in soy sauce (which contains gluten) and honey (sugar!!!). I liked him so much and didn’t want to come across as ‘difficult’ so I said it’s fine and ended up being ill in bed for 2 days thereafter. This was the big moment where I decided that I choose to live a pain-free life. Therefore I need to speak up. One day I asked this particular guy if my food intolerances were an issue to him. He responded: “I definitely don’t want you to be ill…do what you got to do”. Thereafter I’ve had the same approach to restaurants. A restaurant or chef wouldn’t want their clientele to walk out ill and in pain. Instead they want to give you a delicious experience leaving you coming back for more! Which means that I need to guide them in that process of enjoying the service they are offering. What I’ve found is that the majority of restaurants are more than happy to assist your needs. I’m sometimes quite startled by how much they go out of their way to make your experience pleasurable.
Here are more ways that you can speak up and help the restaurant to help you:
· NEW RESTAURANTS: If possible always check the menu before going to a new restaurant. Make up your mind before the time and prepare how you will ask for it.
· FINE DINING: Call call call!! Always call before you go to a fancy pants restaurant where you’ll be paying a lot of money. Culinary chefs use eggs, sugar, wheat, dairy in food and sauces that you’d never expect. If you call well in advance the chef has time to tweak and prepare a dish on the menu with your requirements in mind but they can’t do it on the day you’re already there.
· SALADS: Love me a good salad! Here’s the drill to how I keep it that way. Ask for dressing/ sauces on the side. Always mention no dairy (because some places add dairy without having it on the menu), no croutons (obviously!)
· SAUCES & DIPS: Always ask the waiter what is in the sauce. For example I love baba ghanoush & hummus. The traditional recipe doesn’t contain any dairy but some places still add dairy or mayo (egg). Always check!
· GLUTEN: If you’re not sure always ask if something contains gluten. Also, you can create a salad plate that contains the inside of a wrap or schwarma as I do in the video below. Remember, gluten hides in gravy, soups, soy, tempura, stews etc. Always ask!
· VEGETABLE PREPERATION: I’m having veggies so I’m being super healthy…Uhmm., HANG ON! Chefs love adding sugar to butternut and carrot dishes. SO ASK and request for this not to happen. Ask for raw mushrooms and raw tomato. Ask for steamed. If possible always have steamed veg! Stay away from deep fried. Far away!
· ASK FOR EXTRAS/ SIDES: Make the dish work for you! If there are not enough yummy veggies then order extras. Side of broccoli, side of spinach (steamed), side of avo, side of chicken, side of whatever you need to make your meal balanced and whole.
· BE PREPARED: I love the lsa porridge at Tasha’s but they use coconut milk (which I can’ have) so I ask them to substitute with unsweetened almond milk instead. Sometimes they only have the sweetened almond milk or nothing at all. What do I do? I go prepared and I take my own unsweetened almond milk with for them to use.
· IDENTIFY RESTAURANTS THAT WORK FOR YOU: Have a little list of the restaurants that don’t poison you or who can accommodate you. This helps when you’re making decisions under pressure of where to go. My list contains: Tasha’s, Saigon Suzy, Perron, Parea, Yo sushi, most steak houses.
· TREATS: How do I treat myself? Firsly, redefine your definition of treat. If something is going to hurt or harm your body afterwards is that really a treat? (I’m talking to people who suffer pain after having sugars etc) Also, there are some natural treats like fresh fruit! This is my ultimate. Nut butters- YUM! Fresh veggie juices or mint tea instead of cappuccinos.
· MESS UPS & MISTAKES: Mistakes happen. Especially when you eat out and you can’t control everything that goes into your plate. In this case I use Barley Grass (for a super green detox and elimination of acid) and floras (consult your nutritionist or doctor).
I’m fully aware that I’m a bit of an extreme case when it comes to living with intolerances. This is just a guide to show you how I manage it. Hopefully this can inspire or help you on your journey to becoming 100% unapologetic about living a pain free existence. Because you’re NOT a pain when you choose to live pain free!!!
I’m here in this community with you! We’re doing it together. xxxx