Going out to eat is one of those simple pleasures that most people indulge in frequently. Eating out for celebrations—like birthdays, work meetings and simply because you are traveling can take on a whole new meaning when you have Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Many people with UC feel like this part of their social life is over for fear of triggering symptoms - but it doesn’t have to be. There are some simple tips that can allow you to participate in a meal out without regretting it later.
Know what foods trigger your UC.
While we know that there are certain foods that can trigger UC symptoms the list is not the same for every patient. If you have UC it can help to do a food journal. Over time you will see patterns in what foods cause a flare-up of your symptoms. Knowing what triggers your UC symptoms can help you to make smart choices when you are eating out.
Check into the restaurant beforehand.
Most restaurants have menus online that you can check out before you head to eat. That gives you some added time to determine which foods you can choose without being rushed. If you know there is a restaurant that has foods that sooth your symptoms don’t be afraid to suggest it. With a little pre-planning you can pick menu items that won’t leave you in pain later.
Over-indulging can be hard on your digestive tract—no matter who you are. When you dump a ton of food into your system at once your body has to work that much harder to digest the food. If you happen to get something that triggers symptoms, an extra big meal (which means more of the trigger food) can make it much worse. Try to stick to normal sized portions and be sure to drink enough water to aid in digestion.
Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions.
No one likes to be the person making a thousand requests at a dinner out but rest assure that most restaurants are very used to making substitutions. Talk with the server and politely make your requests. While it might be uncomfortable to ask, it is much less painful than a flare-up of UC.
With a few tweaks here and there you can still enjoy eating out when you have UC. Even better? You won’t end up in pain afterward.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.