When something in your diet doesn’t agree with you, it’s likely that you’ll do what you can to avoid eating it at all costs
From bloating to migraines, skin complaints to joint pains, our trigger foods can cause a host of unwanted conditions that, given the opportunity, we’ll make an effort to steer clear of.
But where does that leave us when it comes to eating out? While we may be able to control what we put on our plates at home, when it comes to restaurants, it’s a lot harder to monitor our meals.
What can those of us living with food intolerances do to avoid our trigger foods and still enjoy a rich and full social life, complete with delicious dining experiences?
Here are some of our top tips:
Do your research
If you’ve got a dinner date coming up, swot up on your options. Many restaurants list their full menus online, along with information about allergens and dietary requirements.
Knowing what’s on offer in advance can help you feel in control and removes the on-the-spot pressure to decide. If you feel rushed, you can end up picking something that might not be the best option for you, and then feel you have no choice but to eat it, and deal with the unwanted consequences later.
Don’t be afraid to talk to the restaurant staff about your dietary needs and preferences. They will be trained up on all the dishes on offer, along with the available substitutes and alternatives, and they should be more than happy to help you.
Restaurants are increasingly aware of intolerances, and many offer a wide selection of alternative options to cater for people with dietary needs. If in doubt, ask questions and don’t feel awkward – the restaurant wants you to enjoy your meal and your experience with them.
When picking a dish, think about all the various ingredients likely to be in the meal.
If dairy is a problem for you, don’t forget about the creamy dressings. If gluten causes issues, look out for crumb coatings or croutons. If tomatoes are a trigger, consider the base of that sauce or salsa.
Trigger foods can be cleverly disguised so, if the menu isn’t clear about what the dish contains, don’t be afraid to ask.
Take the time to research the cafés and restaurants getting it right. Facebook groups for people with dietary requirements are a great source of peer referral, sharing people’s experiences dining out with intolerances. Going to a new city? Try Googling “allergy friendly restaurants in X” to find recommendations – don’t forget to share your own experiences to help others.
Know your enemy
You may feel certain that a particular ingredient causes you problems, but are you sure? On average, we react to between 4 and 6 foods. Additionally, reactions can take up to 72 hours to appear, which makes it very tricky to identify exactly what is causing the issue. You might think it was the eggs at breakfast, but it could have been the tuna in the sandwich you had for lunch the day before.
Knowing exactly what your own triggers are gives you greater knowledge and control over your diet and wellbeing, empowering you to make the right choices for you and giving you confidence, even when you’re out of your culinary comfort zone.
What are the signs of a food intolerance?
Food intolerances, which can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat, releasing antibodies to fight it, can cause a host of inflammation.
Headaches, brain fog, IBS, bloating, low mood, and joint pain are all reactions that can result from a food intolerance, as well as skin complaints like eczema or acne.
Take control of your diet
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. A common recommendation is the elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. But this process can take a long time. And, although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is found, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing the problem.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company.
At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.
Our home-to-laboratory service gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts, with clear, easy to understand results sent to you via email within three days.
Dedicated nutritional support
Importantly, our tests include a telephone consultation with our BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. This additional support is there to help you understand your results and put a plan together to make safe, sustainable changes to optimise your diet.