Learning How to Dine Out with Ulcerative Colitis
You Can Eat Out with Ulcerative Colitis
Eating out is an important part of social life. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or grabbing lunch with a client, restaurant dining is necessary from time to time. For people with ulcerative colitis (UC), that can be a scary reality.
Food is a delicate issue: what you eat won’t cause you to have a UC flare, but it can make symptoms of a flare worse. When you’re not cooking at home, it can be hard to find food that fits all of your needs and doesn’t aggravate your symptoms. However, it can be done. Click through this slideshow to learn more.
The Relationship Between Food and Ulcerative Colitis
Food and UC have a strong connection. The foods you eat do not cause UC, but foods can affect your UC symptoms. Certain foods may aggravate your intestines when you have a flare-up. During times of remission from UC, you may be able to return to a normal diet and enjoy foods you normally avoid during a flare.
Keep an Open Mind
When you’re diagnosed with UC, you may wonder how the disease affects what you can eat. The truth is, you can still eat a wide range of food—you just need to be more attentive to what you’re eating.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for eating out with UC. You need to know what effects certain foods have on you so that you can decide what is safe and what isn’t. You know your body and how it responds. Keep that in mind as you read these strategies and when you’re dining out.
Eat a Small Meal, Not Big
Restaurant portions are huge. Large meals create a lot of work for your stomach and intestines. Skip the giant platters of food—your intestines will thank you.
Instead, think small. Many restaurants offer downsized dishes for customers. Whether they’re appetizers, tapas, or just small tasting plates of different foods, ask your server about these smaller portions of food. If you can’t order a small meal, get something and split it with another person, or save half for later.
Do Your Research
If you know where you will be dining, look up the restaurant’s menu online before you head out for your meal. Scan the options for plates that might not upset your UC.
Don’t be afraid to call the restaurant and ask questions. You’ll be able to narrow down your options even more, and you will be able to make a choice more easily when it’s time to order. This will help you feel confident in your choice and saves you time. It also means you have more time to catch up with your eating companions.
Talk to Your Server
Special requests are not as special as you might think. Servers and cooks are often accustomed to altering dishes to accommodate customers’ special diets.
Also, your server can help you better understand how foods are prepared so you can decide if they’re safe for you. They can tell you how best to request your food so that it meets your needs. The more you know about a dish before you order it, the better. You’re more likely to have a fun, delicious dining experience.
Plan Your Splurges
You can have your appetizers, main courses, desserts, cocktails, and more. Just be sure to keep one word in mind: moderation. Your body can often handle all the foods you want to try; it just may not be able to handle it in the large quantities restaurants typically serve. If you’d like to try several different dishes at one restaurant, ask to split dishes with someone else. This way you can sample more dishes and potentially reduce the likelihood of unwanted side effects.
Create a Plan that Works for You
Proper nutrition is very important for people with UC. The disease makes nutrient absorption more difficult. Food can aggravate symptoms during flares. UC symptoms, such as diarrhea and ulcers, can affect the body’s ability to properly absorb vitamins and minerals. That all means one thing: You need the food you eat to count the most and do the least damage to your body. Next time you’re out with friends perusing a menu, keep these tips in mind to keep your body well.
- Living with UC. (n.d.). Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Retrieved January 3, 2014, from http://www.ccfa.org/assets/pdfs/living_with_uc_brochure_final.pdf
- No Reservations: How to Take the Worry out of Eating Out. (n.d.). Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Retrieved January 3, 2014, from http://www.ccfa.org/resources/no-reservations-eating-out.html
- UC: Lifestyle and home remedies. (2012, October 10). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 3, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ulcerative-colitis/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20043763