Sometimes I just need a break from cooking and the kitchen. You know!
When you have health issues that include dietary restrictions (Autoimmune Paleo protocol), it’s very difficult to go out to a regular restaurant to eat something.
In my case, I can’t have any alcohol, gluten, corn, soy, eggs, dairy, nuts and nightshades (check out my post about nightshades if you haven’t done so already). So when we do decide to go to a restaurant to eat, it starts to become a chore trying to get a meal that I’m able to eat that won’t cause me problems. It’s the same as someone who is Celiac, in which case they have to be so careful with cross-contamination of their foods with anything containing gluten. Fortunately, at this point, my gluten intolerance is not life threatening. However, if I do get “glutened” it will cause me some discomfort for up to 2 days after ingesting it.
How does that happen? Well, when the chef/cook makes things, they quite often will use the same utensils to mix, turn, or stir different foods without thinking about changing it. They might rinse it under water, but cross contamination can occur when they stir a sauce with flour and then use the same utensil to stir something that wouldn’t normally contain flour even if they’ve washed it. It doesn’t take much to cause issues for those of us with these sensitivities to become affected. And of course we aren’t in the kitchen to see what is happening and won’t know until it’s too late! Another source of cross contamination is if you go out to eat breakfast at a regular restaurant that serves gluten free toast – even toasting the bread in the same toaster as a gluten containing bread will cause cross contamination. All it takes is a single grain!
Most usually, there will be a bread basket brought to the table. Simply pass it along for others to enjoy. Or if you are Celiac, do not even touch the basket!
If you have chicken wings, you must ensure that they have NOT been dusted with flour – I order mine Naked! Steak is another food item that is normally spiced. Again, I order mine without any spices. If they use spices of any kind, it’s imperative that you check that there are no nightshade spices in the ones they use. So, I ask for everything without any spices at all. You could carry your own spice blend with you, which is a great idea. Then you could, once the order comes to the table, use your own spice blend on your food. Including table salt – I always use Unrefined Sea Salt, so that’s something else to think about putting in your spice blend, if you’re a salter!
Dairy is a big deal in restaurants. Just about every sauce or soup they make has some form of dairy included. A lot of salads contain cheese, most sauces have milk or cream in them. Salads also often contain tomatoes and peppers (both nightshades), so you would have to ensure you tell the server to make sure the salad comes without those things. I also ask for my dressing to be served on the side, and will often order just oil and vinegar to dress my salad.
Corn – cornstarch is in everything. So make sure if you order something that has a sauce, that cornstarch hasn’t been the thickening agent.
Soy is another big deal for those who cannot tolerate it – so it’s a really good idea to check with your server to see if there is any soy in any salad dressings (most commercial brands of dressings contain soybean oil and/or GMO canola oil). Another thing you should consider bringing along with you is your own salad dressing. I make an Italian Dressing that will go on any salad and would travel well in a small container. Just make sure the container doesn’t leak!
Nuts – ensure that there are no nuts in anything you are ordering if you have nut allergies or sensitivities. Salads will often contain pecans or other tree nuts, so be careful.
If you like Chinese or Japanese food – remember to take along your own Coconut Aminos as you will likely not be using the Soy Sauce or the Teriyaki Sauce they use due to the soy.
Condiments often contain undesirable ingredients. In my case ketchup is made with tomatoes (a nightshade), and mustard is made from mustard seed (a nightshade). So you would have to eat a bun-less burger with no condiments, unless once again you bring your own homemade version of what it is you would be able to get at the restaurant. I make a nightshade free version of ketchup made from beets and carrots. It’s quite a nice substitute for regular ketchup.
Most restaurants today have a Gluten-Free menu section, but that doesn’t always cut it for some of us. If you have a lot of allergies and food sensitivities, it’s important for you to discuss each menu item you would like to choose with your server. That way you can be fairly safe in what you order coming the way you need it to.
Buffets can be a good choice when going out because a lot of the menu items can be pretty plain. You can make your own salad and choose appropriate food items you are able to eat. Again, it’s a good idea to check with the establishment you wish to go to and ensure they have foods on their buffet suitable for you.
Desserts – you most likely won’t be eating dessert. Most desserts are made with gluten containing flours, and/or dairy. Chocolate is also not acceptable for those of us on the Autoimmune Paleo protocol. (When you are making your own desserts at home, you can use carob instead of chocolate, which is quite acceptable as a substitute.) Ice cream of course is most usually made with a dairy product – again a definite NO. So tempting, but also such a big problem for those of us with diary intolerances or allergies.
If you are allergic to any of these foods, make sure you carry an Epi-Pen, so if you do eat something you shouldn’t and start to react, use the Epi-Pen and get yourself to the closest hospital right away.
So, it’s very likely that you wouldn’t go out to eat very often and when you do, choose wisely. You might want to call ahead to the restaurant that you would like to attend to ensure they have something on their menu that you would be able to eat. Often, you can check the restaurant menu on-line. Otherwise, it’s very uncomfortable having to sit and watch others enjoy a meal, while you sit and observe.