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…

asmileisamask said:

I find that smaller businesses are more helpful than big chain restaurants, vegetarian cafés more helpful than non-specialty cafés, and anything in a health food shop is generally the best.

In my town, I’ve only ever found one place that hasn’t given me the wrong food/drink. It’s a little vegetarian café that caters to vegans as well, and the ladies that run it are the kindest and friendliest people I’ve ever met.

They put a chocolate-coated hazelnut on the spoon when you get a coffee, and the first time I went I carefully asked what it was. They told me and I said nervously that I was allergic. She immediately said she’d get me a different spoon. Ever since, I’ve never gotten one on my spoon and I’ve never had to mention it again.

When I order soy, I get soy. Every single time.

I see some posts on here that concern me, about people switching low-fat and soy for regular milk. I’ve lost count of how many times my drink has come out with regular milk, but it’s often enough that I sniff, take a wary sip, and if it’s not soy I spit it into my water glass before informing the wait staff that I was given the wrong drink.

Teal Pumpkin Project for Halloween Allergy Accessibility

Many kids have food allergies that make Halloween difficult since they can’t eat many candies.

There’s a project called the Teal Pumpkin Project that’s trying to address that. They’re encouraging people to make non-food treats available, and to paint one of your pumpkins teal to indicate that you have non-food treats.

They suggest several non-food options:

Ideas for Non-food Treats  

Available at dollar stores, party supply stores, or online shops, these low-cost items can be purchased and handed out to all trick-or-treaters, or made available in a separate bowl from candy if you choose to hand out both options. Nearly all of these items can be found in a Halloween theme or festive colors.

Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces

Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
Mini Slinkies
Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
Bouncy balls
Finger puppets or novelty toys
Spider rings
Vampire fangs
Mini notepads
Playing cards

If you want to order this kind of stuff online, one option is the Oriental Trading Company.

More on restricted diets

More on restricted diets

Do not take food issues personally.

If someone can’t eat something, it’s not personal:

  • It isn’t a rejection of your hospitality
  • It isn’t an insult to your cooking skills
  • It isn’t a comment on your health, your lifestyle, or your diet

It’s also not any of your business:

  • Don’t expect an intimate conversation about the reasons behind the food restriction
  • Don’t make a big deal about it
  • Do not comment about weight loss
  • Do not offer unsolicited medical advice
  • Do not offer unsolicited health advice
  • Or unsolicited religious commentary
  • Or your views on vegetarianism

And especially, don’t do dangerous things:

  • Don’t try to trick people into eating things
  • Even if you think their food issue is a ridiculous phobia and that tricking them would cure it
  • Seriously, seriously, don’t do that
  • It won’t help, and this kind of thing can and does kill people
  • And, in any case, irrational people also have the right to say no

You do not need to agree that the person is correct about what to eat in order to interact with them respectfully. You just have to arrange for it to be possible for them to be in spaces you’re in, and for it to be predictable whether there will be anything for them to eat there.