Eating out when you need to control what you eat
It seems odd to write about eating out in times like these. I actually never thought I’d write about that topic at all. Eating out in a restaurant used to be a luxury for me. It was something I did once a year, if even that. I have never really had a lot of money, so my eating out would be a pizza or a salad at a food court. Add to that my anxiety with eating in front of others because people generally judge fat people who dare to eat, and going out to a restaurant was never on the top of my list of priorities. I like to cook, I always need to save money. So eating in the comfort of my own home seemed like the most reasonable thing to do.
Until I moved to Canada. For some reason, it is not necessarily cheaper to go grocery shopping and cook your own meal here. In Europe, I could cook a meal for under 3 bucks, easy. Here, everything is just way more expensive. Eating at a restaurant is something that most people can afford here, at least every now and then. I am so fascinated by this part of North American culture. Ordering take out, sitting down in a restaurant, all those things are normal here. Where I come from, that is not really a normal.
I think a lot of it has to do with the diversity of people here and all the small restaurants all over the place. While you can find pizza places and kebab stores everywhere in Europe, it is hard to find other affordable food places. Where I live now, there is so much choice, you will never run out of new places to check out. And the best thing is that most restaurants offer delivery so you don’t even have to go out to get a cheap delicious meal. North America definitely has its perks.
Eating out is quite difficult for me though. I am one of those people who annoys waiters and chefs with her orders, I am sure. Most fast food places are out of the question for me because they don’t have anything on the menu that I could eat. See, there are three things that I have to keep in mind when eating out: it needs to be vegetarian (vegan even if possible), low carb and not have any ingredients that would aggravate my IBS. I know, I am not a fun person to eat out with.
Sometimes I don’t want to be a bother, and I avoid eating out. Other times I need to check the restaurant’s menu beforehand to see if it is even worth the trip. Most people might eat out because they want to treat themselves to something yummy and feel okay being naughty, not picking the healthiest options. But I don’t have that choice. I need to manage my stomach issues and my diabetes, and I can’t ethically ever defend to myself to eat meat. So yeah, I am the awkward person who asks about ingredients. Can I have brown rice instead of white rice? Is any sugar in that meal? Can I replace the avocado, broccoli, cheese, with something else? I hate being such a nuisance, and it is not helpful for my anxiety.
But after some time here, I have found a few very good restaurants that I can eat at. Japanese places, Thai restaurants, Ethiopian, a keto place, a salad bar, a few vegan and vegetarian restaurants, Lebanese, Israeli. There are lots of places that I love, and where I know what I can order on the menu. I even found a burger chain with vegan burgers that they offer with a lettuce wrap and sweet potato fries.
That doesn’t mean that I eat out all the time. I definitely do not. I still prefer to make my own meals, because I can control the portions and I know exactly what goes into my mouth. And I can avoid a months-long IBS flare up by avoiding certain ingredients. I know what food spikes my sugar. And I know so many great vegetarian and vegan recipes. But when I am not well enough, we order dinner in instead. And every now and then we are out and realize I need to eat (I need to eat every two hours for my blood glucose level stability) and we decide to eat out. And sometimes we even feel like it would be a nice thing to go out on a dinner date.
I still hate eating in front of others. It just makes me very anxious and I am always worried that someone will judge me for eating. Because apparently fat people are supposed to starve. So I don’t think I could ever eat out with friends. But when I am out with my Master, it is different. I can focus on him and everything else around me doesn’t matter. He has definitely made it possible for me to enjoy eating at a restaurant.
I have never been to a fancy-fancy restaurant. I still very much prefer the small places, the rustic ones, the ones owned by families or run by immigrants bringing their food culture to a new country. And fortunately, there are hundreds upon hundreds of places like that here where I live.
We haven’t eaten in a restaurant since the beginning of February. I am dealing with quite an annoying long IBS flare up. So I have to focus on eating the right food, and I can control that better by cooking my own meals. And now all restaurants are closed anyway. But once this crisis is over, I want to eat out again, and support all those small restaurants that will have suffered immensely financially. And annoy them with my very specific questions and orders.