Eating Out with Gastroparesis

Posted in: Diet, Lifestyle ♦ Sunday, February 28th, 2010, 10:26 pm ♦ 8 Comments

While figuring out what to eat day-to-day is one of the most difficult aspects of living with gastroparesis, going out to eat is that much harder.   My friends and I often eat out on Saturday nights and while it’s an enjoyable experience for them, it can be stressful and uncomfortable for me if I don’t plan ahead.

Here’s how I typically prepare:

  1. Speak up:  If possible, I suggest a restaurant that I know will have something on the menu that I can eat.  A diner, for example, since pancakes almost always work well for me.  While most restaurants will have at least one “safe” choice, like a plain baked potato, I know I deserve to enjoy the experience as much as everyone else.  For me, that means going  somewhere I’m comfortable and ordering something I actually want to eat.
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  3. Research the menu:  Once I know where I’m going, especially if it wasn’t my choice, I try to research the menu.  Almost all chain restaurants and many independent establishments post their menus online.  Some also provide nutrition information, which is extremely valuable since seemingly healthy dishes can sometimes be surprisingly high in fat.  I also tend to call ahead to find out what the soup selections are for that day.
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  5. Decide what to order in advance: One of the most stressful parts of going out to eat is deciding what to order.  I want something that is least likely to cause symptoms – especially if we have plans after dinner – but I also want to enjoy my food.  It can also be uncomfortable to look over the menu as the others in my party look on, asking if there’s anything I can eat or suggesting things that they think I should be able to eat.  If possible, I almost always decide what I’m going to eat before I arrive so that I don’t even have to open the menu.
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  7. Eat a satisfying snack/meal ahead of time: There’s nothing worse than being hungry and finding there’s nothing on the menu to eat.  So sometimes I’ll simply eat before we go.  I try to choose something I really enjoy and find satisfying so that I won’t feel as deprived as I watch others eating their meals later.
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  9. Enjoy the company: Whether I choose to eat at the restaurant or not, I always do my best to focus my attention on the people that I’m with and just enjoy the company and conversation.  I’ve found that being social and continuing to spend time with friends – even if that means watching other people eat – is usually better for the spirit than sitting at home!

While all of this can certainly take the spontaneity out of going out to eat, in the long run I find it makes the experience more enjoyable and less stressful.   What are your tips for eating out with GP?  What are your favorite restaurants or menu items?  Please share!

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8 Responses to “Eating Out with Gastroparesis”

  1. Posted by: Brittney
    March 2nd, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Great topic. I don’t eat out very often. Actually I avoid it at all costs. The few times I’ve gone out with my grandparents we’ve gone to Perkins. I was happy to find out I could order a bowl of applesauce. Aside from that I haven’t found a place that has something I can eat. Between the GP and the lactose intolerance my options are limited.

  2. Posted by: Gabriel
    March 11th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I avoid going out myself as well. Between IBS & Emetophobia, anxiety comes easily when out and about. Usually there is quite a bit of peer pressure to eat things that may not be a good idea. I can enjoy foods at home, because I know if I have a bad reaction I am in a “safety zone”, bathroom is right down the hall. The same cannot be said for when you’re out dining somewhere. It’s easy to become self-conscious if you have to use the restroom multiple times, or if you offend someone by declining their invitation to eat certain foods & it can be terrifying if you’re trapped in a car around people you want to make a good impression with but all you can think about is where the next available restroom would be so you can get to it promptly.

    But these tips are good and I have enjoyed some outings, but usually with people I know well such as my girlfriend or brother.

  3. Posted by: GPadvocate
    March 11th, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Gabriel, thank you so much for sharing. I think many of us can relate to the feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness that you describe. Making a point to go out with people that you know well, trust, and feel comfortable around is a great way to lessen the anxiety and prevent the social isolation that so frequently results from these digestive diseases.

  4. Posted by: Amy
    June 6th, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Gabriel, thank you so much for sharing. I think many of us can relate to the feelings of anxiety and self-consciousness that you describe. Making a point to go out with people that you know well, trust, and feel comfortable around is a great way to lessen the anxiety and prevent the social isolation that so frequently results from these digestive diseases.

  5. January 11th, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    [...] Eating Out with Gastroparesis: My tips for enjoying meals out with friends and [...]

  6. Posted by: Bonnie
    January 16th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    My husband has GP, and we have always been very social , enjoy family eating out, etc. So, we found it extremely hard with his GP to “enjoy” going and we stayed at home for months and did research to find out how to handle our situation, with little help …..due to there is not a lot on GP, except this website has really been helpful……….
    We came up with our own solution…….we have several local restaurants , know the owners and have explained my husbands condition. They are very glad to work with us on menu choices. We found that we were “staying” in too much, not getting out…..and isolating from family, friends, social life.
    We found wonderful “new” GP Dr. in Raleigh NC that has given up “tools” to move on and LIVE with GP and new meds whic I pray work.

  7. Posted by: Crystal
    January 18th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Hi, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing your experience and kudos to you and your husband! Understandably, a lot of GPers end up isolating themselves from family and friends, since it seems like it’s easier to avoid social situations than to confront the limitations that GP requires. Yet, as you and your husband discovered, it *is* possible to continuing living life with gastroparesis — it takes preparation and creativity, but it can be done and life becomes more enjoyable when you take those steps.

    Would you mind sharing the name of your husband’s new doc? Others in your area might find the recommendation helpful.

    Warmly,
    Crystal

  8. Posted by: Ravae
    August 28th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    I have had GP for 2 years now (since I was 28).
    It is hard to explain to your friends or family why you cant go out. Its not as simple as just haveing to “use the bathroom”. I recently went out with my husband our 2 young children and my parents whiel on vacation.I was having a sevear anexiety attack and after taking a xanax and then searching the internet and finding this I felt a little better and talked with my family. We decided to go to the golden correl buffet. I was able to find a few things that I could nibble on and even though I did get sick anyway It was more tolerable and I was able to make it back to our room without embarrising myself in the resturant by hurling my guts up in the bathroom and being forced in the fetal position from the pain!

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