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Eating Out With Dietary Requirements: We’re Not Just Difficult


Lactose intolerant? Wheat allergy? Don’t worry about going out for food. You’re not making a fuss. And with these tips from Kaja and friends, you can enjoy your dining experiences once more.

Eating out when you have a dietary requirement is tough. If you are out right now, reading this article, with your mates in a restaurant where the waiter doesn’t know what gluten-free means, or there are no vegetarian options except the sickly sauce-saturated so-called ‘salad’, or perhaps were invited out to an ice cream bar with no non-milky options, you’re probably not having a great time. But worry not, for, out of a remarkable and almost planned coincidence, that’s what we’re here to talk about.

When I was 14 I discovered the hard way that I have a wheat intolerance and found out that having a dietary requirement is far from sunshine and rainbows, especially when you’re eating out. Suddenly you can’t eat 90% of what’s on the menu and everyone else thinks you’re being a pain in the behind. That’s why those of us with food intolerances, an allergy, IBS, or an ethical eating preference have to stick together, since we know we are not being pains in the behinds.

So here are a few handy hints and tips and restaurant recommendations from people who understand. Bon appetit.

Tips From Cai, A Coeliac

(Coeliac disease is where your small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten.)

Venue 35 in Stoke Bishop is where I go every time I would like something gluten-free that you can’t really get anywhere else, they are very informed on pretty much all dietary requirements. One thing that’s really helped me to go out to eat more is just looking in advance what different places have to offer. Most places have the classic gluten-free options – jacket potato or salad, which I find is always useful to keep in mind. A lot of the time I feel like I’m being awkward or annoying for not being able to eat at some places but what usually gets me past that is just to kind of joke about it, pretend that it’s just me being fussy when we all know that I’m not, that way I can make light of the situation but I’m still reminding people to consider my dietary requirements.


Tips From Jon, Who Can’t Have Cow’s Milk Or Milk By-Products And Is A Vegetarian

Not having milk products is tricky and can make having puddings difficult (which is a shame, since puddings are the best part of any meal). If you are allergic to cow’s milk then heading to a vegan establishment can be handy since they will have lots of milk substitutes anyway. Places I’d recommend are The Bristolian and Bristol Beer Emporium – the latter of which has vegan ice cream that’s much better than regular ice cream, along with great pizzas.

In restaurants if you ask for the meal ingredients in a polite way then they’re usually quite accommodating. I get it’s awkward, but The Bristolian actually made something special for me whenI explained I was allergic to cow’s milk, so it is a good idea to talk about it.


Tips From Rosie, A Vegan

A great place to go is Café Kino, which is community-run and has lots of ethical discussions and a great environment. Other good places to eat are the Old Market Assembly, Canteen, and Planet Pizza.

Being quizzical when you’re going out and asking places if they have vegan options is good, even if they don’t, as it shows the demand for them so these establishments might start thinking about expanding their range and catering to a wider variety of people. This is ultimately better for them, don’t feel your questions are annoying or anything.

There are lots of websites all about vegan dining which I find really useful. There’s Vegan Bristol, Bristol vegan’s group on Facebook; plus, for the over 18’s, there’s a website called Barnivore which can help you find out which alcoholic beverages are vegan.


Tips From Me, Kaja, Who Is Wheat Intolerant And Has IBS

As I’ve said before, I can’t eat wheat since I have an intolerance to it and I also have IBS as the cherry on top. What do I have to say about this in relation to eating out? Um, don’t do what I did when I was younger.

I used to just assume some things would be wheat-free, like chips and sausages and veggie burgers, since I couldn’t see why they would need wheat in them. This led to quite a lot of regrettable situations, since those three things, among many other things which don’t need wheat in, often do contain it. I don’t know why, it’s probably because food manufacturers hate us. So it’s always best to ask.

Places to go? Frankie and Benny’s has a gluten-free menu, so does Yo! Sushi and the Banco Lounge. The Hungry Horse has marked what is gluten-free, so has VX, the vegan café, who often have gluten-free cakes and nachos.

IBS is an acronym for Irritable Bowl Disorder, and although I wouldn’t call it an eating disorder, it can really put a strain on eating out (sometimes literally). It basically means your stomach is susceptible to having frequent painful, unpleasant episodes brought on by all sorts of foods, so if you notice your friend spending an extra-long time in the toilet after you’ve had a nice meal, please don’t make a big deal out of it. Tips for eating out when you have IBS would be bringing whatever pills you find helps you along, whether that be Colpermin Peppermint tablets, Buscopan, or paracetamol, so you can be prepared for the worst case scenario.

Furthermore, don’t feel afraid to leave what’s left on your plate if you just discovered that whatever you were eating doesn’t agree with you. There’s a huge guilt trip in our society about leaving food, and although I agree it’s good not to excessively waste food where you can, it’s also good not to make yourself ill. Stand up for yourself. That’s what all this is about.

I know it’s hard to talk about something like IBS as toilet talk is either seen as humorous or a taboo, but we need to change that. We need to talk about it more, because for some of us it is a very real problem not to be taken lightly. Also, last tip, don’t let it stop you from going out.

With all of these dietary requirements, don’t let it put you off eating out and having a good time. Be unapologetic about your dietary requirement, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, in fact we need bowling jackets or something with our eating requirement printed on the back so we can go bowling and ask the staff there if they have a dietary specific menu for snacks. Fun fact, ten pin bowling in Avonmeads actually do and they’re very nice about you asking for it and very patient when you ask if there’s wheat in the Slush Puppie and they explain it’s just ice and syrups. We can do it. I believe in you. Bon appetit.

Do you have any hints and tips for a dietary requirement, or any recommendations? Please comment below or chat to us on @rifemag

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