It would be fair to say that food intolerances have grabbed much more attention over the last few years. Whether it’s for gluten, dairy or even fructose – the list could go on.

When you’re in the comfort of your own kitchen, it’s somewhat easier to manage these dietary concerns. After all, you have (almost) complete control of the ingredients within them.

However, as soon as a restaurant invitation arrives, the situation changes. It might sound dramatic (and perhaps it isn’t, due to the possible side effects), but your destiny is suddenly in someone else’s hands.

Following on from the above, if you suffer from a food intolerance and you’re planning a meal out, read on to find some of the key rules you should abide by.

Research your restaurant in question

It doesn’t sound very interesting and, in some respects, it isn’t. After all, you’re looking for a relaxing meal out, and revising for the meal in question is hardly on your agenda.

Unfortunately, it really should be. Whether you are heading to Covent Garden or the other side of London, have a read of the online menus beforehand. The worst thing you can do is arrive at a restaurant in a rush and subsequently pick something that isn’t suitable. If you can look in advance, the chances of this happening are much lower.

Double-confirm your requirements with your waiter

This is something that has become much easier to do over recent times, and waiters are always prepared for food intolerance questions.

Even though you might be quietly confident that your meal choice doesn’t contain any intolerants, this doesn’t mean to say that you shouldn’t confirm again with your waiter. While the ingredients list might be safe, you also need to protect yourself from cross-contamination. Quite often, the waiter will inform the kitchen of your intolerance, and your food will be prepared aside from others that contain the contaminants.

Grilled food tends to be safer

If we turn to specific dishes, anything of the grilled variety tends to be safer. This is because it doesn’t involve woks and other pans that might not have been cleaned properly, having been recently used for another dish. It’s all about cross-contamination, and while most reputable restaurants will have separate equipment for this reason, you can never guarantee this. This is another reason why a discussion with the waiter before ordering can be extremely worthwhile.

Not all dishes are equal

A final point we want to make is how different restaurants treat dishes.

In other words, while the apparent-same dish may have been free of contaminants at another establishment, it doesn’t mean to say that the same rules are going to apply in the restaurant you are now eating at. They all have slightly different recipes, and it’s up to you to make sure that the ingredients list is compatible with your own dietary concerns.

Again, for a so-called relaxing meal, it sounds tedious, but always check, then check again.