Dining out, a cautionary tale

My doorbell rings the other day and I greet a smiling face from a home delivery, frozen food company whose name rhymes with “Schlawn’s”.

He begins his spiel, but I interrupt him to say that I’ve had their products in the past and found them to be less than satisfactory.

He forged ahead, asking “Have you ever eaten at an Applebee’s?”

I replied, “Yeah, their food sucks.”

Oddly enough he continued with “We supply them”.

This encounter served to reinforce my suspicions that at least some franchise restaurants have only cursory control of their food.  I don’t have any food industry experience, but it’s easy to imagine that those chains are using as much prepared food as possible. Definitely bad news for an SCDer.

When I first started the SCD I tried eating at chain restaurants. I quizzed the waitstaff and ordered things that sounded safe. Almost invariably, I would feel some effect from my “safe” meal. After about six months, I gave up restaurant food. It just wasn’t worth it.

Dining out will always be a risk because virtually no one is familiar with the requirements of the SCD and the true meaning of  “nothing added”. To minimize your risk, eat at locally owned, non-chain restaurants that only cook from fresh ingredients. Speak directly to the chef at an off peak time and explain your needs. You’ll learn a lot about that restaurant from how that chef reacts to your requests.

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7 Responses to “Dining out, a cautionary tale”

  1. 1 Kat March 17, 2010 at 9:08 am

    In the 2+ years I have been on SCD, I have only dined out a couple times successfully. Too many times I was reassured of ingredients used only to become sick after. Unless I can talk to the chef, I usually don’t bother eating out anymore. It baffles me how our restaurants have gotten to this point. Even high-end expensive places are using bottled sauces full of additives and cheap margarine to cook with.

    Thanks for posting this, I’m glad I’m not alone. Some people think I’m crazy for not believing a waiter that the food is safe. But now I know, it’s not just me.

    • 2 Paul Stocker March 18, 2010 at 8:56 am


      Before SCD, I didn’t give it any thought, but when you consider how difficult it is to find legal prepared foods and realize the constraints of time and money that a restaurant faces, it shouldn’t be any surprise that they take advantage of certain efficiencies. I think the feeling of shock comes from the realization of how little I knew about the food I was eating. These experiences really shine a light on the assumptions I hadn’t even realized that I’d made.

      You’re definitely not crazy.


  2. 3 Sarah March 23, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Yeah, it was hard enough to eat out when I was only gluten-free! Even then, I would invariably end up with an upset tummy afterwards. (I always chalked it up to cross-contamination, but now I think that I was actually probably reacting to other ingredients. I’m particularly suspicious of cheap vegetable oils.)

    Eating out on GAPS/SCD is basically impossible, I think. Last week I ordered the simplest bowl of soup in a sweet local tea-house. I was told it was ONLY rice, veggies, and either duck, tofu, or salmon. They serve weak green tea on the side to use as broth! I was assured that the duck was grilled, and not marinated or anything else at all. I was told I could have extra veggies instead of rice. Sounds safe, right?

    One bite of the duck and it was clear it was smoked/cured, because it tasted exactly like bacon. Mmmm bacon. But almost definitely prepared with sugar, then. Also, the veggies were mostly edamame. Sigh. I ended up eating the duck but skipping the beans. And, I had an upset tummy that night. Not sure what to blame, as I did eat other things that day that could have contributed but I’m sure it didn’t help!

    All that to say… yes. Eat at home. It’s much safer!!!

  3. 4 Denise Therese March 24, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Restaurants are so difficult. I, like you said, stick to non-chains, although at What-a-burger, you can order a burger without a bun–just lettuce and tomato to go with it.

  4. 5 Tracee March 27, 2010 at 7:56 am

    I saw this artcile today and thought of your post. It’d from readers digest and called Secrets your Waiter won’t tell you:


  1. 1 SCD Restaurant Review – Carrabba’s Italian Grill, A++ « Naturally Gutsy Trackback on May 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm

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