Ordering food when you have dietary restrictions


What is the right way to ask over-the-counter-food selling people about the food? I keep having the problem where I ask things (like, what is in the food, for instance) and they interpret this as me ordering it and start making it for me. I…

ischemgeek said:

“Do you have an ingredients list for [item]? Can I see it?”

In many places, food providers are required to keep ingredients lists on hand and provide them to people who ask (most places in Canada and several American states have these laws). It is the single most reliable way of telling whether or not the item has whatever-you’re-allergic-to/can’t-eat in it, in my experience. Neurotypical people with dietary restrictions ask to see ingredients lists all the time, so if you’re worried about passing, asking for it won’t make you look neurodivergent.

In a restaurant or other place where ingredients lists aren’t on hand, “I can’t eat [thing you can’t have]. What foods are safe?” works if you don’t have anything in particular you’ve picked yet. Otherwise, “I can’t eat [thing you can’t have]. Is [item] safe for me?” works pretty well for me. I find starting out with whatever you can’t eat tends to get their attention better than including it in the same sentence. I don’t know why, but it works.

A final point: If you’re sensitive to cross-contamination and the person is unsure, I would really strongly recommend you pick something else because “I’m not sure” often means “sometimes and I can’t be arsed to ask the chef which it is today” and if you press things, they might just pretend to go ask the chef and then you can get cross-contamination. That’s a thing that’s happened to me. I find it’s a lot safer to err on the side of not getting the thing.