These days, so many of us have special diets we need to adhere to for health-related reasons. We can’t seem to go out to eat without one member of the group claiming lactose intolerance, another confirming they can’t have gluten and so on. Are these conditions on the rise or are people just more able to voice that certain foods make them ill?
The science is a little ambiguous, the jury’s out: according to one study, 13% of respondents said they “couldn’t have” gluten, but medical records suggest that in reality less than 1% of the population has Coeliac disease (gluten-intolerance). Yet, regardless of medical diagnosis, a lot of us are avoiding gluten, lactose, dairy and even meat because we are concerned about the way our bodies react to them.
So how does this work when you’re a foodie and want to explore this world of culinary variety we live in?
According to research, pizza is the second-most adaptable food item on most menus. The industry has really stepped up to the mark when providing gluten-free bases, plus they can be made without dairy and free of other allergens.
Italian also has the added bonus of being adaptable to your individual needs. This cuisine allows you to grab a take away just as easily as it gives you the chance to sit down to some fine dining. And cities all over the world are brimming with Italian restaurants, perfect for celebratory feasts. Filling, exquisite and able to cater for all needs, Italian is more than up to standard for a celebration.
If you’re concerned that a restaurant does not have anything listed on their menu to cater to your strict diet, your best bet is to call ahead. Chefs often don’t like to be blindsided on the day but, given advance warning, are more than happy to help. Explain your condition and, as long as you’re willing to communicate, many will be glad for the chance to show creativity.
If they are unable to help, you won’t have to look far to find a restaurant able to serve you. In the past few years, vegan options on menus rose by 22% in the USA alone, proving chefs are willing to cook for people with additional needs. Many restaurants label things accordingly – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and more – so you can be sure you’re choosing a dish that works for you.
Stand your ground
It’s not for anyone to tell you your condition isn’t real. You don’t need a medical diagnosis to make a special request. The most they can do is tell you “no”. However, if they go on to serve you something you have expressly said you cannot have due to an intolerance or allergy, they could be putting you at very serious risk.
A young lady from the UK was left with severe brain damage after a restaurant served her nuts, despite her having told them she had a severe allergy. She was traveling at the time and conveyed her needs in the local language. To avoid such situations, make sure you have been understood completely. It’s not for other people to decide for you when your life could literally be in their hands.
As a paying customer, you get to decide what goes into your body. And, while you should never self-diagnose a serious medical condition, you know your own body better than anyone.