Eating Out With Food Sensitivities might present some challenges. It’s not always easy to avoid foods to which you are sensitive to. Restaurant menus don’t usually provide a list of ingredients. You can always ask your waiter, but that can be tedious. Besides, can you really trust what the waiter tells you?
A growing number of restaurants have started to accommodate guests with the most common sensitivities like gluten, nuts and dairy. The website Open Table is a fantastic resource which makes it so much easier eating out with food sensitivities. Search the DC area, and142 restaurants serving gluten-free dishes pop up. In LA,180. New York City takes the cake with 414.
Before making a reservation, do contact the restaurant of your choosing and ask if they have gluten free items on their menu, or if their menu identifies dishes as gluten-, nut- or dairy-free. I have even seen some restaurants with separate menus that include only gluten-free, dairy–free dishes. This definitely bolsters one’s confidence that they won’t be served food they’re trying to avoid!
Of course, cuisine can be a consideration in choosing where to go. It may prove challenging to find a gluten-free dish in an Italian restaurant or dairy-free dish at a French restaurant. Asian cuisine might be a better choice for accommodating these two sensitivities, as long as you request gluten-free soy sauce.
For less common sensitivities you will have to rely on your waiter after all. Use your intuition to assess how aware the waiter really is of what’s going on in the kitchen. If you have any doubts don’t hesitate to send them back for more info.
And please pay attention to your body signs and signals for 2-3 days after eating out! Did any of your symptoms return? If so, scratch that restaurant off your list and move on to the next. Soon you’ll have accumulated a nice roster of safe favorites!