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Eating out can be a challenge if you follow a special diet. Whether vegan, paleo, gluten-free or something else, finding restaurants that accommodate your dietary needs is no small task. According to a survey in the United States and Canada, more than half of those following special diets say they struggle to find restaurants that meet their dietary needs.

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure you find a restaurant that satisfies your taste buds and nutritional requirements. Here are a few tips to help you find the best restaurants for your particular diet:

women dining at a restaurant

1. Start with Online Research

Thanks to the internet, research is easier than ever. Google your dietary needs plus “restaurants near me” and see what comes up! Once you have some options, visit sites to read reviews from people who have been there before. This way, you won’t waste money on a place that doesn’t meet your expectations. Consider using the following tools:

a. Yelp and Google Reviews

Many restaurant review sites, like Yelp and Google Reviews, can be beneficial when searching for restaurants that meet your needs. Not only will you get a good overview of the atmosphere and food quality, but you’ll also be able to see what other people with dietary needs have said about the place.

b. Diet-Specific Review Sites

There are now several review sites tailored explicitly to people following special diets. These sites allow users to search for restaurants that meet their specific dietary needs. Some popular sites include Vegan, Gluten Free Restaurant Finder, and Paleo Grub.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Once you have narrowed your choices, call ahead and ask questions about their menu options. Many restaurants will make accommodations if they know what you need in advance. Don’t be shy-you have every right to ask questions and make sure the restaurant suits your needs before spending your hard-earned money on dinner that may not even agree with you!

You can even ask where their ingredients come from to make sure nothing sneaks into your meal that doesn’t fit your dietary restrictions. You can ask and ensure they have a reliable food ingredient supplier that is certified and trusted. If you are vegan, you should ensure the restaurant is sourcing its ingredients from local organic farms focusing on ethical animal welfare and sustainable practices.

3. Make Friends with the Server

When it comes time for dinner, don’t be afraid to talk to your server about any concerns or requests you may have. They are much more likely to help accommodate requests if they understand why it matters to you personally. Servers are well-equipped professionals who understand how food works; they know which ingredients should go into certain dishes and can offer suggestions as needed. To build a good relationship with your server, try doing the following:

a. Make sure to be kind and courteous

Anyone in the service industry deserves respect and courtesy, so make sure you are polite when making requests. You don’t want to be a “difficult” customer.

b. Ask questions and offer suggestions

Your server is the person who will be making your meal, so it’s essential to communicate with them. Asking questions and offering suggestions helps ensure you get a meal that meets your needs.

c. Tip generously

Generous tipping is always appreciated! It’s essential to show your gratitude when you make special requests.

4. Bring Your Own Food

If all else fails, you can always bring your own food. Many restaurants are happy to accommodate diners who bring their own dishes. Just make sure to call and ask the restaurant if it’s okay. This way, you can avoid any potential awkwardness or confusion when it’s time to order. But makes sure to tip your server still, even if you don’t order food from the menu.

Some restaurants may even offer discounts for bringing your own food, so it’s always worth asking ahead of time. You may find that ordering off-menu or bringing your own food saves you time and money!

Eating out while adhering to a particular diet doesn’t have to be difficult! With the proper research techniques and open dialogue with restaurant staff, anyone can find great places for dining out, regardless of their dietary needs. So don’t let having specific dietary requirements stop you from enjoying delicious meals at some of the best restaurants around-you just need a little extra preparation so that everyone leaves happy (and full)!

Your diet may affect how you enjoy eating out. Regardless of your dietary restrictions, you can use the following tips to find restaurants you can eat in.

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