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15 Tips for Dining out when You Have IBS

Updated on July 18, 2016

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Does Not Have to Equate with House Arrest

Dining out can be a real ordeal if you are experiencing an IBS flare-up. However with some planning, you should be able to manage it.

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann

• Monitor your diet carefully during the 24-hour period before you plan to eat out. Meticulously avoid anything that could trigger an attack in the middle of your restaurant meal.

• Eat a small, IBS-friendly snack before you leave. If the restaurant service is extremely slow, or if the menu contains very little that you can eat, you will not be sitting at the table with an empty, growling stomach while nausea starts to set in.

• Maintain a calm attitude prior to departure. Be sure you know the location of your car keys, what you will be wearing, who will be babysitting, etc., well in advance. You should attempt to leave your home at a leisurely pace, with a smile on your face.

• If the restaurant is unfamiliar to you, the first thing you should do on arrival is find out where the washrooms are located. Then stop thinking about your body and the bathroom.

• It is crucial to be polite to your food server. He or she can make the difference between a pleasant meal and a disaster. Remember to leave a generous tip for anyone who goes the extra mile to make your experience an enjoyable one.

• You do not have to reveal to your server that you have IBS, but you could say something like, "I have a medical condition that makes it difficult for me to eat fats, crunchy vegetables, or spicy foods. Can you let me know if what I am about to order might contain any of those things?" Or tell the server that you have severe allergies.

• Ask questions, and if necessary, request that your server speak to the cook or chef about food preparation if anything on the menu is unclear. For instance, just because fish is poached does not mean that the kitchen staff will not add a buttery topping or spices after it is cooked.

• Avoid dishes that are described as fried, battered, creamy, spicy, rich, or crispy.

• Ask for all sauces, gravies, dressings, etc. on the side.

• Inquire about the soup of the day. It might be just what you need to round out your meal.

• You may be able to order half portions, or selections from the children's or seniors' menus.

• Avoid all personal trigger foods and beverages.

• Say no to ice water. Cold beverages sometimes trigger IBS symptoms.

• Double-check the labels on herb teas. Some teas that sound delicious are actually blends that contain caffeine.

• If you can tolerate salad, eat it after the entree, the way they do in Europe.

More Information

Are you searching for more dining out tips and information for managing IBS? Kathy has written two helpful books:

The IBS Compass: Irritable Bowel Syndrome Tips, Information, Fiber Charts, and Recipes. Set an immediate course for health and happiness.

IBS-IBD Fiber Charts: Soluble & Insoluble Fibre Data for over 450 Items, Including Links to Internet Resources. Convenient format will allow you to take the charts along when you shop, travel, or eat out.

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