Your best friends invited you to a birthday brunch at a popular, decadently indulgent restaurant. This is something that you should be looking forward to, not dreading.
So, why did you tense up the moment you saw the name of the restaurant?
Why are you thinking of every excuse in the book to try and get out of attending the extravaganza?
People already make fun of you for your food choices as a vegetarian. Now, after your food sensitivity test came back with high scores for eggs (both the yolk and the white), and a protein found in all dairy products, you’ve suddenly become a strict vegan overnight. What will they say now?
Managing food sensitivities and food allergies when eating at a restaurant is no easy task. We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to decline that brunch invitation that you would have otherwise accepted.
Here’s how to manage food sensitivities and food restrictions when eating at a restaurant.
What exactly is a food sensitivity?
Food sensitivities are kind of like an allergy but your body’s reaction isn’t as immediate or life-threatening. While you won’t go into anaphylactic shock after eating a food you’re sensitive to, you’re likely to experience a range of adverse reactions. Some of the more common ones include stomach troubles, skin rashes or acne, fatigue, headaches, and respiratory issues.
The thing about food sensitivities versus food allergies is that sensitivities produce delayed and sometimes subtle reactions that may not be obvious for several hours or even days after eating the culprit.
Why is this important? Well, you might be someone who suffers from chronic migraines, or persistent adult acne. Because of this, you’ll end up spending quite a lot of money on co-pays, medical bills, and medications to get your symptoms under control when the real fix is eliminating a trigger food that you might be ingesting everyday.
While food sensitivities are not life-threatening like allergies, they are quite sinister because of how life-impacting but subtle the symptoms can be.
Now, back to the topic at hand.
No one likes feeling out of place at an event that is supposed to be fun. No one likes the pressure of having to ask the server “Do you have any vegan options?” while the entire party is staring at you, waiting for you to order. It’s like the worst kind of stage fright. Take it from someone who has experienced this a lot.
Like, a whole lot.
One way to circumvent this nightmare fuel is to call the restaurant ahead of time. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate a guest’s culinary restrictions, especially if that guest is part of a large party.
For example, on a recent trip to Key West (the most vegan unfriendly place yours truly has ever visited), making reservations and calling restaurants ahead of time was an absolute lifesaver. On more than one occasion, chefs created beautiful and well-rounded dishes with the vegetables they had in the kitchen, and they seemed to have fun while doing it.
The restaurants that couldn’t accommodate were kindly taken out of the eating rotation. There was no “But you HAVE TO accommodate me” entitlement. Restaurants are businesses and are completely within their right to refuse to accommodate you.
Don’t be upset if they can’t do it, just shrug it off and…
Eat something before the event.
This is one of the best fixes for attending an event at a restaurant that can’t accommodate your dietary restrictions, and it’s one of the best fool-proof options.
Simply eat a filling meal ahead of time and check the restaurant’s menu for any sides or drinks that you could safely order. When it’s time for you to put in your order, just smile and say that you already ate but you’d love to try their oat milk latte.
See? Simple, stress-free, and you can attend the birthday brunch without stressing out about what to order or go into lengthy explanations about how food sensitivities work.
Study the menu.
Taking a good hard look at the menu and deciding on what you’re going to eat before the event is another great way to avoid the dreaded cocked eyebrows and confusion. Most restaurants list the ingredients in their dishes right on the menu.
For example, if you’re eyeing that brioche french toast but aren’t sure whether or not it has eggs in it, you’re able to take your time searching for the answer yourself instead of asking the server.
You can also pre-plan exactly what you’re going to order so that you sound confident when you say “No cheese on the salad, please,” instead of “Does this salad have cheese? I can’t eat cheese.”
Remember, you’re doing this for you.
If you’re used to showing up and eating whatever is served, pre-planning, calling ahead, or eating before the event might feel uncomfortable for you. However, it will make your social life much easier, we promise.
Dietary restrictions can turn brunch invitations into an instant source of stress. But remember that you are embarking on this journey for yourself, not for others.
So, accept that brunch invite, plan your outfit and meal, and get excited because you’re going to have an amazing time with your best friends.
By taking the stress out of eating, you can enjoy your social life to the fullest.