Eating Out on a Special Diet
Adapted from Pure Facts June, 1996 Vol.20, No. 5
The key
Approaching restaurants
What to eat at Disney World?
On the ground / In the skies ...
NOTE: Although we spend many hours poring over ingredient lists from the various fast food restaurant chains, the products on the Fast Food & Restaurant Guide are not researched in the same manner, and with the same accuracy as our Foodlist & Shopping Guide. By the same token, while we do our best to advise you on choosing restaurant meals for your family, we must caution you not to do it until your family is well established on the Program.

The key

The key is to focus on what you can eat, not what you cannot. One adult member called FAUS, worried about the plans she and her husband had made to eat dinner out with friends that evening. These were our suggestions. It was early in the afternoon, a good time to call the restaurant and ask to speak with the chef. Don't name all the things you cannot eat, and expect him to come up with a meal that fits your needs. Instead, have a brief list of some of the foods you enjoy and tolerate before you call, and ask him if he can prepare one of them for you to eat that evening.

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Approaching restaurants

Perhaps you would like a fillet of fish, sauteed in olive oil and fresh garlic, and lemon. It could be accompanied by a baked potato with real sour cream or real butter. Green salad might have a lemon juice/olive oil dressing. (or just fresh lemon wedges on the side)

The chef may be able to offer a grilled T-bone steak with no marinade and only salt, pepper and garlic to season it. Noodles tossed with butter and your choice of seasonings, plus steamed broccoli with salt and butter could round out the meal.

Sliced chicken breast, dipped in flour and sauteed is a dish easily prepared; corn on the cob and a green vegetable may be added.

Perhaps they have fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and boiled shrimp; these could turn a salad into a meal.

Quality restaurants probably have a good selection of basic ingredients on hand; look upon them the same way you do when you prepare food in your own kitchen. Maybe the fresh orange slices are designed to go in the mixed drinks, or the lemons are kept for use with iced tea. But that doesn't prevent you from enjoying fresh sliced orange with your meal, or a glass of lemonade made to order.

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What to eat at Disney World?

A similar approach was suggested for a member family planning their family vacation which included their very allergic daughter. We encouraged the mom to type up a list of all the foods her child tolerates and enjoys -- no meals, just the foods alone. This might include, for example: rice, noodles, oats, macaroni, walnuts, pecans, cashews, cantaloupe, pears, lemon, pineapple, watermelon, blueberries, banana, kiwi, green beans, sweet potatoes, onions, cabbage, peas, carrots, broccoli, squash (all types), alfalfa sprouts, lettuces (all types), beef, chicken, lamb, flounder, salmon, sole, tuna, eggs, cocoa, white sugar, honey ... When the family arrived at the park, Mom visited the restaurants that looked promising (at off hours), taking copies of the list of foods. She asked each chef if he could devise several meals using those foods; then she gave the days and times the family would plan to eat at that restaurant.

Before the family set out for each day's activities, a call to the restaurant reminded the chef that they would be arriving for that day's lunch or dinner. We believe that most accomplished chefs will gladly accept the challenge (and may welcome the opportunity to use their creative talents), but we would like your feedback if you use this technique.

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On the ground / In the skies ...

A similar technique may be helpful whether you are arranging for special airline food or speaking with a neighbor who has invited your child to stay overnight.

Make your suggestions clear and specific; for example, you might ask the airline representative if they could provide a peanut butter & honey sandwich, banana, and whole milk for your child's meal. Your suggestion to your neighbor could be grilled hamburger, Fritos and 7UP, with Breyers vanilla ice cream for dessert. For breakfast Crispix with whole milk and pineapple juice is not a difficult request.

If you feel comfortable mentioning that the diet your child is on helps children with "ADD," don't be surprised if the other person tells you her own child, or a friend's has been diagnosed with this. (FAUS can provide you with information brochures to have available.)

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