Eating out when you follow a special diet

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Vegetarian, gluten-free, low-fat? Eating out on a special diet

9653383_f520It sometimes seems to me that everyone these days has an eating plan that differs from the regular diet. But what is the regular diet?

As we become more knowledgeable about nutrition, and with the wealth of information that’s available to us, it’s hardly surprising that so many of us have decided to adjust our diets to maximise our health.

This can making dining out more difficult.

But the good news is that restaurant chefs are quickly appreciating that they must adapt to suit their customers and their individual wishes.

I recently conducted an informal survey locally and found that most chefs and kitchen staff were extremely helpful. This was across the board – from top restaurants to inexpensive local diners.

Wait staff differ greatly though. Experienced waiters have a huge knowledge about diners’ preferences and the type of meals their kitchens can produce.

But beware of the part-time, new wait staff who might not even understand what your diet is. I have known vegetarians be offered fish as an option.

We don’t eat meat and my other half once made the mistake of telling a waitress that he was vegetarian. Eager to help, she said that she’d have the chef prepare him something special. When we were served, he looked on enviously as I ate a delicious pasta dish – totally meat-free which he would have been delighted to eat – while he ploughed his way through his ‘special’ vegetarian dish; an uninspired plate of soggy, hastily-prepared, unseasoned vegetables.

However, this is an unusual experience. I found that even our cheap-and-cheerful local pizza takeout will offer pizzas with gluten-free bases and have an option for vegan cheese.

Luckily, the food service industry is realising that those of who don’t eat ‘normal’ diets can be big business!


You might be interested to read a fun account of a family trip we had in Key West. ¬†Our party, which ranged hugely in age, included a vegan who was also on a gluten-free diet, a strict vegetarian, another vegetarian who is pretty half-hearted about it but must have her wine (me), a man who considers that any meal should have a huge chunk of meat and that even quiche is ‘foreign’ plus a picky nine year old child.

However did we manage to find place to eat? Find out more about our problems here.




Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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