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7 Crohn’s Disease Tips for Eating at a Restaurant

Crohn's patient eating out with familyFor people living with Crohn’s disease, they need to spend a lot of time thinking about what they put in their mouth. This makes going out to eat at a restaurant inherently challenging. The risk of a flare-up is never far from the mind of someone living with this gastric condition.

“Crohn’s patients have anxiety about eating period, but when you’re not in your own home and bathroom it can cause a lot of anxiety,” explains Tamara Duker Freuman, a registered New York dietitian specializing in digestive disorders.

This anxiety should not rob you of the opportunity to eat at your favorite restaurant and it doesn’t have to if you follow these tips. Are you ready to make the most of your next date night?

1) Research the Menu Beforehand

Nowadays, most restaurants have their own websites that should maintain an up-to-date menu (try this online resource too). If for some reason you can’t find any information online, then call them and ask about what’s on their menu. It’s something people living with food allergies do all the time as well.

More people have begun to speak out about their medical conditions and the best restaurants are savvy to their customer’s needs. If you ask them ahead of time, they’ll probably have no problem making some modifications to a special dish in order to keep it Crohn’s-friendly.

2) Know Your Personal Food Triggers

Looking for Crohn's friendly items on the menuClinical studies have shown that food triggers differ from patient to patient. The most common problem foods include:

  • Several types of raw fruits and vegetables
  • Fried foods
  • Cured meats
  • Coffee and carbonated beverages

Extensive menus should have something that will be well tolerated by Crohn’s disease patients. Most chain restaurants like Applebee’s and Chili’s have developed a rather diverse menu in order to appeal to a larger demographic of customers. Well cooked foods, lean meats and items like avocado tend to be better tolerated.

3) Don’t be Afraid to Try Different Cuisines

Studies have shown that certain types of cultural cuisines are better tolerated than others. Many classic Thai or Indian dishes are spicy and can exacerbate your Crohn’s symptoms. A salmon-based dish or miso soup can be good options if you are interested in Japanese cuisine.

Experimentation is an important part of learning how to manage this disorder. You’ll also help lower your overall anxiety by learning what types of food you tolerate better.

4) Join in for the Good Company

There might be instances where people invite you to come out, but you’re not feeling well enough to eat. This doesn’t mean you need to skip out on the evening. It can be emotionally uplifting to spend that time with friends or family, even if you’re sticking to hot tea or something very light.

5) Avoid the Peak Restaurant Times

Line of people at a popular dinner spotThe anxiety of being away from one’s own restroom can make eating out very difficult for Crohn’s disease sufferers. This can be exacerbated if the place you go to is packed. Peak restaurant times mean that the restroom could also be a lot more crowded.

Ask those who you’ll be eating with if they would be willing to meet for a late lunch or early dinner. There are also additional benefits to visiting a restaurant at this time such as better service and not feeling rushed. We also recommend asking for a table closer to the bathroom if available.

6) Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself

Mind over matter– you’ve probably heard this saying plenty of times. Perhaps more than a few times when you were struggling with symptoms prior to knowing you have Crohn’s disease. However, it does help to keep a positive attitude when you’re planning on going out to eat.

Negative thoughts on what you’re eating could end up having a very negative effect on your condition. Studies have shown that stress can easily exacerbate the symptoms of this gastric disorder. Our recommendations: take your time, stay positive and remember to properly chew your food.

7) Find a Restaurant that Caters to Your Needs

Finding a restaurant that effectively caters to your needs as a Crohn’s sufferer can be difficult depending on where you live here in Alabama. Those living with severe symptoms can have very broad dietary restrictions. If you have found a place that works well, don’t be afraid to become a regular.

In fact, regulars are often well rewarded by the restaurant. You could soon find yourself getting special discounts and even specific dishes not available on the regular menu.

Life can be difficult as you learn how to live with the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. However, this illness should not keep you from living a real life. There are options available to you. So the next time you want to go eat at a restaurant (whether it’s an old favorite or a new discovery), try keeping these tips in mind. You’ll find it much more enjoyable!

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