Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a medical condition that causes prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract caused by a group of intestinal disorders. This disease is considered to be very painful and can be life-threatening at times.
When a person has IBD, he/she prefers to cook and eat at home, rather than dining out. They may be anxious or frustrated while eating at restaurants, thinking about the quality of ingredients used and the method of preparation in the restaurant.
There are a few steps that can be considered when a person with IBD wants to eat at a restaurant:
- Plan the restaurant that you could go to
Decide ahead of time what you will eat and how much you will eat before you go to the restaurant. If you’re worried about getting hungry and eating something you should not eat, have a healthy snack before heading out.
- Choice of dishes from the menu
If you know what restaurant you are going to, do some research beforehand. Many restaurants have menus available on their websites. If you are truly worried, call the restaurant and ask if they have any dishes that you know are “safe” to consume.
- Look out for a restroom
Before being seated, or shortly after being taken to the table, inquire about the location of the restroom. You can use the excuse of wishing to wash your hands before dinner if your dining companions are unaware of your health issues. This way, you will know where the restrooms are and can double-check that they are clean.
- Try to skip the cocktails
Alcoholic drinks are not recommended for people with IBD. A virgin cocktail or water may be ideal.
Mozzarella sticks, hot wings, nachos, and chicken fingers are all fatty, fried or dairy containing and so are not good for the digestive system. If you’re feeling left out since everyone else is enjoying an appetizer, try some soup or reach for the breadbasket.
- Try to avoid the crowd
It might be as simple as going to a restaurant outside of peak lunch and dinner hours to reduce stress. Organize events during off-peak hours, such as late lunch or early evening. This will give you greater control over how long you spend in the restaurant, and you’ll also receive better service. Don’t be afraid to request a table near the restroom if you want to feel extra safe.
- Consider it as a social occasion
It might sometimes feel like every social gathering revolves around a meal. If you’re not in the mood to eat, don’t let that stop you from mingling. Even if you merely drink a cup of hot tea or a glass of juice, you’re still making an effort to be with the people you want to be with, and everyone may benefit from your presence.
- Choice of portions
You’ll be more comfortable at home or in a restaurant if you eat less food more frequently, which promotes digestion and absorption. Consider ordering a 6-inch sandwich rather than a 12-inch one, or an appetizer. To assist minimize portion size, consider sharing a whole lunch with someone else or taking half home to eat the next day. Try to have a modest snack an hour or so before heading to the restaurant so you are not extremely hungry and don’t overeat or eat too quickly.
- Carry food substitutes and medications
Consider taking lactase tablets ahead of time if you are lactose intolerant, as these may help you digest any lactose in your meal. Also, if your prescription requires it to be taken with meals, keep some in your pocket or handbag. For a successful meal away from home, follow these procedures: Relax, take little pieces, and chew thoroughly.
If you have inflammatory bowel disease, going out to eat might be intimidating, but there are steps you can take to feel more at ease. You can feel better prepared by calling restaurants ahead of time, reading online reviews, and choosing locations you trust. Asking questions about ingredients or requesting changes to your purchase might also be beneficial.
Having a pleasant attitude toward eating out can make a big difference. If you’re always thinking about what could go wrong, you’re preparing for the worst, and stress can make IBD worse. Try to look forward to the outing as a fun event. Also, chewing your meal slowly and thoroughly will aid in the digestion of each mouthful.