How to Choose the Best Meal Off a Menu
One of the things people with IBS find hardest is eating out and what to order. There are often many unknowns in sauces and other parts of recipes. It is always a good idea to call ahead or check out the menu online to be sure of what you can eat, especially if you are doing an elimination diet like FODMAPS or GAPS.
What is menu connection practice?
However, sometimes that is not possible, and you need to choose something in the moment. Menu connection is a practice that has helped me a lot and I continue to do every time I go out, even if it is to a restaurant I have never been before.
This practice has made me feel a lot more relaxed about going to restaurants and I no longer have the fear that goes along with that as I now have a proven system to deal with it.
How to practice menu connection
Step 1. Look over the menu, give it a quick scan and note the types of dishes that are on it.
Step 2. Eliminate anything you automatically know will not work for you. For me that is anything with a creamy sauce, or heavy amounts of dairy in it. If something, like a salad, has cheese and I think I can ask the waiter to exclude the cheese, or I know I can pick it out, this is still in the mix.
Step 3. With the remaining meals, visualize the meal and all its ingredients. How does it look? Now imagine eating each ingredient. You will most likely have eaten them all before. Imagine how it feels in your body. Does it make you feel heavy, or light? Does it bring up bloating, gas, reflux? Do this for each of the meals and then choose the least reactive one.
Obviously, you may still react to the meal that you have chosen, but I find that this technique helps me 90% of the time to choose the least reactive meal. The more you practice it the better you will get at ordering and the quicker you will be able to do the practice.
Practice at home
To practice this technique at home before ‘going live’, get the menu of a restaurant you know well and have tried the majority of dishes. Feel each dish in your body. First the taste and how it felt in your mouth. Then how it felt after swallowing. How did your stomach feel – heavy, light, nauseous etc. How did you feel the next day?
Body connection practices are powerful tools
Feeling into your body during and after you eat is something that I think everyone should do. It connects you to your digestive system and you can feel how food is affecting you. Also, if you are stressed or if there is anything else going on.
Why we disconnect
Many people especially those with IBS often disconnect from the body as we don’t want to feel the pain and the bloating and all the rest of the symptoms. They are uncomfortable and unpleasant. However, the more you feel and understand your body, the more empowered you are to make choices that are best for you. How can you do this without having all the information on how food affects you?
Have a go and let me know if it helps you!
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?