Everyone loves to go out to eat once in awhile. Mr. Right and I used to go out once a week. Our favorite places were Olive Garden, Carraba's Italian Grill and Long Horn Steakhouse. Due to my Crohn's, it has become a habit for me to deny myself and my husband the pleasure of going out to eat. It's not that I don't like going out, I do! What I hate is how I cannot have most of the items on the menu. They are either too high in fat content, too hard to digest (red meat) or the portions are just way too large for someone with Crohn's.
I mentioned in an earlier post that most people consider me a picky eater. I really do like food, but yes, I am picky. I have come to a point in my life that one moments guilty pleasure is not going to make me miserable for one or two days. I crave the salad at Olive Garden. It is always fresh, and their house dressing is absolutely wonderful. I grew up on a farm eating home-grown beef, so when I can get a really good steak it makes my mouth water. Here again I run into trouble. I have been specifically told by my doctor to avoid red meat, especially steak, because it is too hard for my body to break down and digest. We can go to Carraba's and there are things I can order there without too much harm to my digestive system, but the portions are always way too large, and even though the servers don't say anything, I always get these looks when they come by and it looks like I have not even touched my food.
My husband and I went to lunch at Olive Garden on Valentine's Day this year. He had to work, but called me and asked me to meet him for lunch. This is not something he does very often, because he tends to skip lunch on most days. This was probably not the most romantic thing in some people's eyes, but I know that for him to take time from his work is a big deal. Anyway, we went to Olive Garden and I ordered two items from the appetizer menu. When I told our server that this was going to be my entree` she asked me twice if I was sure. I explained to her that I have a digestive disease and so this would be all I would be ordering. At the end of our meal I asked for a to-go box for my leftovers. She looked at my plate and actually made a comment about how little I ate of the food. Now I'm sure that she did not mean to be rude or offensive to me, but I do get a little tired of people judging me about the amount of food I eat.
Recently I went to lunch with my sister-in-law and a good friend. They chose the place we were going to eat at, which is fine, except I kind of wish they would have asked me if this was going to be a problem or not. The place we went has good food, but there literally is almost nothing on their menu that I could eat. I did end up ordering off of the appetizer menu again, but at least the server this time did not question my choice.
Here's the thing though; I don't feel like I should have to explain myself to a server about my food choices, or have them get angry at me if I ask if I can order off of the kids menu. I'm not trying to be cheap, and if you are a good server, I tend to leave a pretty generous tip. I do know that there are some places that are now serving smaller portions for those who are "watching" their weight, but the choices are limited and a lot of the time they are not what I want to eat. I would love it if restaurant managers were trained to realize that there are people out there with restrictive diets that need to have the smaller portions. Just like people with Celiac Disease cannot have gluten, there are a lot of people with other digestive disorders that cannot eat these large portions.
My other huge dislike is buffets. My step-dad loves buffets, as does my husband. When we were in Vegas recently, my mom and step-dad had these coupons for buy one-get one for the buffet in the casino/resort we were staying at. I'm thankful that I was pretty much eating for free, because otherwise I feel like I am wasting money. My typical breakfast was one scoop of scrambled eggs, two slices of bacon and a slice of toast. What, maybe a $6.00 breakfast at the restaurant right next door to the buffet? Yet, the cost for going through the buffet line was $14.99. Now I will grant you that my husband made up for the amount of food that I did not eat, because that is what men tend to do with a buffet. Here again though, half of my problem was the choices of food they had were foods that I cannot tolerate. I like them, it's just that my body does not tolerate them. Needless to say, the only time my husband gets to enjoy a buffet is when we go to Vegas, which is once a year. Poor guy, the things he puts up with being married to someone with Crohn's.
Part of why I started writing this blog is to help people understand Crohn's Disease better, and what it is like for the person who has it. I want to raise awareness, and maybe help get some changes made. Maybe, if more people were aware of this disease that no one likes to talk about, we can get more research done.
Restaurants are just a small obstacle in my path. I would love to be able to go out to dinner or lunch with my husband or friends, and not feel like an outcast because I look like a picky eater, or ask them if it would be okay to order off of the kids menu. If you are the family or friend of someone with a digestive disease, maybe the next time you go out with them, ask them for their suggestions on where to eat. I bet they know a few good places that will satisfy everyone's appetites. Until tomorrow....
Many Blessings and Remember....LIVE, LAUGH and LOVE!