If you’re on the SCD diet or the Paleo diet, understanding how to order off a menu at a restaurant can be very difficult. I know that I struggled to find things to eat when I was first on the SCD diet.
The SCD diet is limited to only grain-free, sugar-free, starch-free, and unprocessed foods. The Paleo diet, on the other hand, is based on the idea that humans were meant to eat a certain way – like they did when they were cavemen. The Paleo diet consists of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. Dairy (optional), grain, and processed foods are not allowed. These diets are good for people in general, but especially for patients suffering from IBD.
The SCD diet was actually created to treat Ulcerative Colitis. The idea was that the healthy foods would starve out the bad bacteria in the colon. This diet can also be used to treat Crohn’s.
Because the diets are highly restrictive, finding something to order off of a menu without going off the diet can feel impossible. But with time and practice, learning how to read menus with these diets in mind, the process eventually gets much easier.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
1) Always look for the protein first.
The main part of your meal will most likely be some type of protein. Looking for proteins such as fish, beef, or chicken that are grilled, sautéed, or blackened is key. Make sure to check whether the meat is breaded or not. If the menu doesn’t specify, you can look online to see whether the type of food you’re looking at is normally breaded. And if you’re still unsure, you can always ask your waiter. He or she is there to help you get the meal you want.
2) Be wary of carbs.
Make sure the carbs you are ordering don’t contain bread or anything that you know is super sweet. If the selection is sweet, chances are it contains sugar. I have added many foods to my diet over the years, and I rely on potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plantains for carbs at restaurants.
3) Extra veggies!
If you don’t think you can get any carbs because the menu is limited, always ask for extra vegetables. Filling up your plate helps ensure you actually have some substance to your meal.
4) You can get dessert.
Most desserts at restaurants tend to be cake or ice cream, and, at first, I felt sad because I have a sweet tooth. I felt as though I couldn’t enjoy sweets at restaurants anymore. Recently, I’ve learned this is not true. At most restaurants, you can get berries and cream. I know this isn’t the equivalent of a chocolate cake, but it’s definitely better than nothing.
5) Never be afraid to ask the waiter.
Waiters are there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask a question about a certain item of food – or even to tell them about your diet. They can talk to the chef and get you a meal that is safe and delicious.
6) Do your best!
We all make mistakes sometimes, and accidentally ordering something that doesn’t fit our diets isn’t the end of the world. Make your best guesses and don’t give up.
I hope I helped give some insight into how you can order food at a restaurant and maintain an SCD or Paleo diet. Eating at restaurants won’t be easy, but with these tips, I hope you discover that doing so is definitely possible.