I did my best to not turn this post into a rant… but may have failed. Hopefully, it still conveys some useful ideas!

We all have to eat out once in a while, be it at a work event, a friend’s house, or in a restaurant. There’s no denying the fact that we are difficult diners, which often results in having to tote around a bag with our own food. While this negates the excitement stemming from eating something new and unknown, it is my preferred option – I avoid the questions, the awkwardness of trying to formulate a description of my ailment without using the words ‘poop’ and ‘vomit’, and the inevitable risk of eating something unsafe. However, when bringing our own meal is impossible, we may need to make do with what is available at whatever place we’re eating. Eating out on a restricted diet is a daunting and anxiety-inducing experience in itself, especially for people with a wide range of intolerances. I have already addressed the issue of navigating this potential minefield here. But here comes the additional frustration that I only recently became aware of: for some reason, whenever we do eat out, it is assumed that we should scarf down with tears of joy whatever is available and safe, even if we detest it so much it makes us gag. Or if we simply don’t feel like having a banana when everyone else is munching on cheesecake brownies and chocolate chip cookies, and would rather save the calories for a slice of delicious home made cake we’ll have later on. Breaking news: people with food intolerances and allergies have food preferences, too!

(At this point, I do need to step back and acknowledge the fact that millions of people do starve and to them, the idea of turning your nose up at food just because you don’t like it is sacrilegeous. I respect that and in general, I am not fussy with very few exceptions – but this article is not about that).

Have you ever been in a situation when your dining companions are pressuring you to order plain rice for your meal, or a plate of lettuce leaves? I have, cross my heart and hope to die.  Do you think any of them would enjoy such fancy fare, were it offered to them as the only item on the menu? Probably not, and it would be completely understandable for them to get up and set out to find a better restaurant. Therefore, I truly do not understand why it is met with such disbelief and even annoyance when we elect to do the same, simply replacing the option of a different restaurant another restaurant for our own fridge or pantry?

In general, after hearing ‘no, I really don’t want anything’ my good friends do give up – but I’ve been in situations where despite stating several times that I really don’t want to eat something, a plate was put down in front of me and willy-nilly, I had to force down whatever was on it. Yes, I could leave it untouched, but I do not waste food as a rule, and trying to not order what I don’t like is partially aimed at preventing having to do just that.

It took me quite a while to come to the realisation that I need not feel guilty for refusing to eat, despite how irrationally insulted my companions seem to be. Hopefully, now that I have verbalised the reasoning for this to myself, explaining it to others will be easier. So to those of you out there who are struggling with the same problem, remember – it’s your body and you decide what goes in it. Do be polite if somebody makes an effort and prepares something especially for you, even if you hate it – a bite or two won’t kill you. Also, in work situations, you may have to bite the bullet and whatever dubious fare flies with it. However, if you’re out at a cafe or restaurant with your friends or family and water seems like the best option, have exactly that. Hopefully, this little post will help you explain your choices to your companions, and make the evening go more smoothly. And later, have yourself a treat!

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When your love for onion rings, whipped cream latté and apple pie has to surrender in the face of a gastrointestinal war... when the world becomes a bleak place, full of chicken soup and carrots... do not despair! There's more than one sweet fish in the sea, and your culinary adventures have only just begun. I hereby present you Squashablanca, the land of plenty for people following a low-sugar version of the low FODMAP diet. Enjoy your food!

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