I overheard a waitress talking about how annoying it is when someone orders something dairy-free, gluten-free, or [insert allergen here]-free. She said it's too hard to remember which drinks or dishes had food substitutions, and she didn’t believe people actually had food intolerances, anyways. When you come across a waitress like this, how can you ask for food substitutes in a restaurant without feeling like a burden?
I wondered what it would have been like to hear her say that years ago when I was experimenting with alternative ingredients. Would I have continued to place these kinds of “special” orders? Would I have decided suck it up with a bowl full of tummy-ache?
It's challenging to ask for the best for your body when you’re worried about how other people will react to your order.
And I’m not just talking about the waitress. I’m also talking about your family members, your partner, your coworkers, or anyone else who might overhear your order and have an opinion about what you should and shouldn’t be eating.
So here’s some reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what you want:
1) Restaurants offer dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free options because... intolerances are real!
It’s not like someone preferred the taste of soy milk to cow’s milk. Some people truly can’t process these foods. Actually, it’s pretty common nowadays to have some kind of intolerance to dairy and wheat, so I think that having alternatives should be the norm and not the exception.
2) Restaurants that offer food substitutions have made changes before
Yep, if the restaurant offers food substitutions, then they should know what they’re doing. It doesn’t matter what the staff thinks - whomever put the menu together had your happiness in mind.
3) At the end of the day, you’re the one who has to process the food, so your feelings are the most important
Your brother-sister-coworker-DOG can comment all they want about what you’re eating, but you’re the one who will have to deal with a tummy ache later if it’s not something that works with your body. It’s okay to have confidence to say “yeah uh…no, that doesn’t work for me.”
And if you think about it, changing your body for the long term is going to require having the confidence to say what you want. No apologies. Time to get used to owning your orders!
So tell me, what has your experience been like with asking for food substitutions? Have you felt awkward? Do you have a story? Leave a comment!