10 Strategies for Dining Out on the Migraine Miracle Plan

With the holidays come many opportunities to gather with friends and family, often at restaurants. So today we’ll take a look at 8 Strategies for Dining Out on the Migraine Miracle Plan. 

1. Ask. Always ask.

The more you cook and eat without common migraine triggers, the easier it will become for you to identify which restaurant menu items will usually work within the diet’s parameters. That said, you should still always confirm. Even though you wouldn’t put sugar or flour on a ribeye steak, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen in a restaurant. Ask your servers to guide you through the menu. If they seem uncertain, ask them to check with the kitchen.

2. Get over the apology

I get it. I do it, too. You hate to be a burden and inconvenience anyone. Even when a server or chef offers to make a substitution, it’s all too easy to decline in order to avoid being a pest. Don’t. While you shouldn’t demand recreations of dishes, definitely accept guidance and support in finding menu items that work for you. Most restaurants are used to it these days.

3. Learn acceptable substitutions

You can always ask for a burger to be served without a bun, but in some places you can also ask for substitutions. For example, often you can get your burger in a lettuce leaf. And at some restaurants, they will bring olives and crudites to go with any dips and spreads that may appear on the menu.

4. Eat with the best

While reviewing restaurants I’ve found that in independent, chef-driven restaurants, the waitstaff tend to be more ingredient savvy. Servers often have a genuine interest in food and therefore are well-versed in the menu. Furthermore, these restaurants work hard to not only source the best local ingredients, but to prepare them thoughtfully so that they shine. The last thing they want to do is hide the natural beauty of those items with heavy flour- and sugar-laden sauces.

5. Identify a chef

The more you dine out while following this plan, the more you’ll begin to identify chefs that cook (and eat) in a style congruent with your new eating habits. Patronize that chef’s restaurants. For example, one Atlanta restaurateur tends to offer many gluten-free items on his restaurant menus, but doesn’t always advertise that fact. 

6. Keep a list

As you cook and research menu items, you’ll begin to realize that certain dishes will almost always have flour or sugar. Keep a list of these so that you can quickly dismiss them as you scan a menu. For example, you’ll learn which items are made with a roux (a flour-based thickener) like gumbo and chowder. You’ll learn which salad dressings are often made with soy sauce (a hidden source of gluten) and that many also include sugar. And you’ll learn that most battered items are made with wheat flour. Keeping track of these items will help you feel less overwhelmed when approaching a new menu.

7. Look for restaurants that notate gluten-free items on their menus

As more and more people reap the health benefits of gluten-free eating, more restaurants are developing gluten-free dishes and declaring them as such on the menu. If you’re still in the apology stage, choose one of these restaurants that take the guess work out of ordering (although you may still have to inquire about sugars).

8. Go ethnic

Ethnic restaurants tend to rely less on wheat flour in their cooking, which translates to more naturally gluten-free offerings, although sometimes you have to watch the sugar. Cook your own meats and veggies on the cast-iron cooking dome at a Korean barbecue joint. Or just go exploring and try new cuisines and restaurants like Ethiopian, another good option for gluten-free dining.