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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Tips & Tools for Eating out with Food Sensitivities

I always knew that eating out would be difficult for people with food allergies, but I never realized how really difficult it was until I started having to avoid soy due to a sensitivity to it. Many people with fibromyalgia have food sensitivities, so I thought I should share what I’ve learned about eating out with it.

Most fast food chains have nutritional guides on their websites that provide allergy information for common allergies, like nuts, soy, wheat, egg and milk. These are really helpful and many smart phones can bring them up. Sometimes you have to download a PDF though, so if you want to avoid using up minutes in a cell phone data plan or you want to have access to them when you’re in the middle of nowhere you could download them using wireless internet and store them on your phone. If you know you’re going to be eating out, take a look at the charts from a computer first, they are much easier to read in a bigger size.

Sometimes the charts are tricky! Remember you often have to check the listing for the whole food item, but also for things like the bun and patty because often times they are in separate parts of the chart. Also, don’t trust the charts 100% – even if the corporate website says it is free of an ingredient, be sure to ask the location what type of oil an item may be cooked in. For example, many places use soy oil to fry things. It also may be a good idea to have a back up plan for just in case you end up eating the ingredient you are trying to avoid.

When eating out at a sit down restaurant, it can be easier to say you have an allergy to an ingredient instead of a sensitivity, especially if English is not the first language of the employees you’re talking with (ex: authentic Mexican restaurant or type of authentic Asian restaurant). I’ve also found that instead of just saying soy, it works better when I say “…soy – like soybeans, tofu, soy oil, soy flour, soybean sprouts, soy sauce.” Remember to check add-ons to the actual dish, like salad dressings, condiments like mayo, and any oil it is cooked in. Most chain restaurants have easy to read pages for all their recipes, that managers can refer to.

Nutritional Guide Links & some soy free fast food choices*

  • Subway – light wheat English muffin with ham and cheddar cheese or ham salad with fresh veggies, croutons and red wine vinegerette
  • Wendy’s – chilli (NO crackers), plain baked potato (NO butter), apple slices, BLT salad with Italian Vinaigrette
  • Burger King – Quaker® Oatmeal Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor, fresh apple slices, Garden Salad with KEN’S® Light Italian Dressing
  • McDonalds – they LOVE soy, the only things I could find was side salad (NO dressing), low fat yogurt (NO granola). I will update if I can find more later.

How do you avoid eating certain ingredients while eating out?

This post was included in ChronicBabe Blog Carnival #39.

food allergy sign

A blessed sight!**

*Based on November 2011 online nutritional guides
**Image Credit: from by miheco


Comment from gwen
Time November 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Hi Felicia.
Indeed eating out IS damn tricky. I’ve developed an intolerance to cow dairy products and lately beef and veal meat. Each time i eat some it sends me into a major fibro flare. It’s hell eating out i just feel like an alien unable to eat like everyone. I “feel safe” only with homecooked meals which isn’t always easy nor possible. #fibrosucks


Felicia Fibro Reply:

It certainly does make one stand out when we’re asking restaurant employees all about ingredients and it takes awhile. Sometimes I will call sit down restaurants in advance and ask them about menu items, if I can see their menu online. That way I can order more quickly when out with others.


Comment from Somer
Time November 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Hello! I was just wondering if you had some type of food sensitivity test to determine what you are sensitive to, or did you just watch for reactions from certain foods?
Somer recently posted: In My Mailbox


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I did do food challenges! It was rough, but I did an extensive elimination diet. You can see all my posts about the process here:


Comment from Pam
Time November 15, 2011 at 9:41 am

I can’t imagine having to eat out with food allergies. So many limitations. You never really notice until you just sit down and start looking. So do you eat out very much?
Pam recently posted: A Free Gift For You as A Thank You From Me


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Well, I didn’t eat out much before (maybe 1-2 times/week), but ever since realizing I had a soy sensitivity it is more like 1/week). Although, the first month I only ate out 2 times, when I needed to meet with friends.


Comment from Vandamir
Time November 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Eating out with food sensitivities takes almost as much effort & planning as cooking for oneself. I’ve learned what foods are acceptable for me in small amounts (dairy, soy, cane sugar) and what things aren’t (gluten, artificial sweeteners, potatoes, tomatoes). I often order beyond the menu rather than sticking to what’s on it: combining an entree with either another entree or a different side from what comes with the dish. For example at a cafe my writing group met at weekly one of my common orders was a garden salad w/o croutons or tomatoes and a side of tuna salad w/o bread. Instead of salad dressing I’d get lemon wedges. At another cafe instead of fish tacos with flour tortillas, they’d serve the fish, slaw and mango salsa over corn tortilla chips for me. I could also get it as a salad rather then “nachos.”


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I agree, eating out is definitely not a lot easier! That is a great suggestion – about combining various parts of menu items to make an entree for yourself.


Comment from Selena
Time November 28, 2011 at 5:39 am

Wow, I didn’t realize how much soy was used at McDonalds! We don’t eat there very often, but it is a treat from childhood and I get an occasional craving for it.
Selena recently posted: Reflection on My First Thanksgiving After Cancer Treatment


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Many places use soy oil – I’m assuming it is cheapest. Even some vegetable oils are just soy oil or a blend that has soy oil in it.


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