Yes, I was that girl at the restaurant. The one who asks specific questions about every item and how it’s made.
Two days ago, I went out for a birthday dinner. For the days leading up to the dinner, I was anxious about whether I could find anything to eat on such a restrictive diet. I knew I would likely end up with a salad and grilled chicken, which is fine in principle, but even simple things can get complicated. For example, balsamic dressing. I can eat balsamic vinegar or a simple dressing made with balsamic vingegar, but when I looked at what’s in balsamic dressing, the list for a name brand version has over 14 ingredients including sugar and three types of vegetable oil. I did momentarily consider bringing my own homemade dressing in a small container, but thought better of it – mainly because I assumed it will spill in my purse.
Another issue is chicken. Some restaurants serve real chicken. Some don’t. I specifically recall a pita experience in which I genuinely questioned whether I accidentally received a tofu pita since the “chicken” was spongey with a chicken-like flavour. I soon learned about the highly processed chicken strips or nuggets that have added soy to keep costs down. Apparently these chicken strips went a little overboard with the soy.
I was given the name of the restaurant in advance and was able to look up the menu. I saw two salad options that seemed okay with some minor tweaking. So, once I arrived at the restaurant, I knew what questions I wanted to ask.
Our server was obliging, and she patiently answered my questions about the dressing (made in house with limited ingredients) and the items in the salad (i.e. marinated raisins – turns out they are simply soaked in balsamic vinegar). I removed the cheese and ordered the salad. I then got to watch my counterparts eat a mouth-watering caesar salad and warm bread while I sat quietly trying not to think about how much I wished I could do the same.
The main meals finally arrived, and I ate my salad quickly. It was pretty tasty, but it was somewhat difficult to enjoy knowing how good the other options were.
Overall, the experience wasn’t as bad as I imagined it could have been, but I do not intend to go out for dinner again until after the elimination diet is over. I do keep forgetting there is more to the elimination diet that just the 28 days. The 28 days is just removing all the common allergens and triggers, but then I have to slowly add them back in one at a time. The complicated part is that I have a conference in early November, and I won’t have access to a kitchen. But, I have a few more weeks to try to figure that out.