dietary restrictions

Hello, I wanted to write a response to the post about ordering food with dietary restrictions. I work the counter at a restaurant and would recommend specifying the dietary restriction you have and asking about the menu or specific dishes in relation. Also, where I work we have an allergy guide the lists all the ingredients in the dishes, so you could ask if they have one of those you could look at. At least where I work we’re trained to know the ingredients and what contains gluten, soy, etc.

ischemgeek:

Ordering food when you have dietary restrictions

realsocialskills:

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.

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 want to be respectful and not a jerk to the people, but I can’t just let this go, because the reason I’m asking is that whether or not I can eat the food depends on the answer.
realsocialskills said:
 
I’m not sure, because I have a lot of trouble talking to people who are selling me things.
 
I suspect that part of the problem might be tone, or not using clear enough words.
 
If that’s the problem, then stating the problem first and then asking about the food might help:
  • “I’m a vegetarian. Does the lentil soup have any meat in it?”
  • “I can’t have gluten. Can you tell me which dishes are gluten-free?”
  • “I’m allergic to mushrooms. Does the chicken sandwich have mushrooms in the sauce?”
  • “I don’t like olives. Does the bean salad have olives in it?”

In terms of not being a jerk, it helps to say thank you when they answer the question, and when they give you edible food. 

It’s ok to interrupt if they’re in the process of making possibly-inedible food, but I don’t really know how to do it effectively.

Does anyone else know good ways to handle this? How do you get information at food counters that will tell you whether or not you can eat the food?