Special Diets are Lonely

Her abdomen twisted suddenly and fiercely. The inside cramped and squeezed. She felt tears sting the eyes as they threatened to fall.

What caused the pain this time?

Pain grips her lower abdomen with unbearable tightness before she retreats to the restroom.

She tries to recollect what had been eaten over the last 24 hours. Was it the molasses? No. Was it the lunch meat? No. Was it a new sensitivity? Maybe.

Then she realizes… fast food French fries! It had once been a safe option but apparently causes GI distress now. The fries are made with soybean oil.

Tears well up in her eyes again and start to fall. Enjoying food in restaurants, at a party, or out and about has completely lost its luster. The appeal is gone and is now left with an extremely painful stomach ache. What’s the point of trying?

… This is one moment of what it’s like to live with food sensitivities and intolerance.

————–

I’ll be honest… I have been really frustrated lately. Eating a special diet is often lonely, annoying, and inconvenient. No one chooses this willingly, but only because an intolerance to something has led them to this frustrating decision.

I live with an unfortunate disease, among several other chronic illnesses. Endometriosis is well known for causing chronic abdominal pain – meaning it is more than just a bad period, my friends. Some women find it helpful to eat special diets, which can often lessen or relieve additional painful symptoms associated with the disease.

For me personally, I find it most helpful to eat gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. I also eat organic at home and live as chemical-free as possible (but that’s another post for another day).

My diet choices are often the topic of conversation at work or social gatherings. Why? Because it’s different, yet socially acceptable to discuss.

My family tries really hard to find me things to eat when we gather. My husband is extremely supportive but struggles to shop for me.

Restaurants are usually helpful and I often eat something completely off the menu, which can be fun sometimes. But rarely will you see me selecting an item from the dessert or appetizer menu.

When it comes to everyday life… as helpful as it might be for my illness, a special diet is lonely.

How to Reduce Reactions to Food Outside Your Kitchen:

  1. Research and find safe options ahead of time. 8 out of 10 times this is enough to keep symptoms at bay.
  2. Alert the wait staff to food allergies or intolerances. Emphasize the importance of it too. Most restaurants will be attentive to your needs.
  3. Bring your own salad dressing or dipping sauce. I’m sick of guessing what’s in my salad dressing. I’ve purposely packed “soy sauce” (aka coconut aminos) in a small container in my purse when going out for sushi. I plan to start this for salads now too. Soybean oil is often used in dressings and even the wait staff doesn’t know that.
  4. Applaud the places that take extra steps to meet your dietary needs. I’ve had managers personally come check on me several times and it makes me feel like a valued customer, as opposed to what I feel like on the inside… an inconvenience. I will always take the time to write a Google or Facebook review when that’s done.

Q: What Products Do You Need to Consider When Dining Out?

A: Short answer, everything. I think about how dishes are made and then consider every possible ingredient within the dish I’m ordering. Often times, it’s easy to remove all gluten, dairy, and soy. But there can be things missed, which is why I suggested the above approach.

Consider these “hidden ingredients” the next time you dine out:

  • Cooking oil or butter used to cook a burger, egg, hash browns, bun, and more.
  • Seasoning salt on veggies, burgers, fish, meat, and more. Often contains soy lecithin.
  • Salad dressing usually contains milk and soy.
  • Dipping sauces will often have soy or milk.
  • Seasoned rice contains a ton of allergens.
  • Desserts… yeah, good luck.
  • French fries (not in its natural form) may contain soy.
  • Veggie burgers often contain soy or milk.
  • Taco and fajita seasoning CAN contain milk.

I usually try to stick to anything in its natural form when dining out. If you have any other suggestions or questions, please comment below.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and best of luck dining.

_______________________________________________________________________

*Top image created with Spark.

Copyright © 2017 WordsByMara – A subsidiary of Wordiate Solutions LLC. All rights reserved.

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