Ensuring a Good Eating Experience when Dining with Picky Eaters

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Eating out is always quite a treat. However, a meal can be made a little more difficult by picky eaters in a restaurant where there is nothing at all they will eat. What can be done do to avoid this situation, ensuring groups always have a great meal out no matter what? With an extensive directory of restaurants, 118.com has put together a little guide to ensure one in a group ever has to go hungry.

Dining out is always quite a treat. However, a meal can be made a little more difficult by picky eaters in a restaurant where there is nothing at all they will eat. What can be done do to avoid this situation, ensuring groups always have a great meal out no matter what? With an extensive directory of restaurants, 118.com has put together a little guide to ensure no one in a group ever has to go hungry.

Children
It isn't uncommon for children to be fussy eaters. Children trying things for the first time in a strange environment are often a recipe for disaster, no pun intended!

People interested in taking their young children out to eat should try introducing them to unfamiliar food for the first time at home. This reduces the chances of their rejecting new foods or genres when they arrive at a restaurant.

If parents are particularly concerned that their children will not enjoy anything from a restaurant, they should try preparing a small meal for them at home before leaving. Upon arriving at a restaurants, smaller side dishes may appeal to children a little more, and they will enjoy their visit without eating anything they dislike, or getting hungry. Of course, this should only be done in desperate situations when it is an important occasion and a parent is worried a fussy child may not eat: ideally, children should be able to order and eat full meals at restaurants.

Another easy thing to do is to check out the menu online before leaving home, ensuring there are options suitable for children. There is no point taking a child--or anyone, for that matter--to an exclusively fish restaurant if the person doesn't like fish; they won't miraculously decide they like it! With the vast array of menus available online, most people will be able to find a copy of the offerings at a chosen venue before leaving home.

Vegetarians/ Vegans
It may not necessarily be fair to call vegetarians or vegans picky eaters, but when eating out, the exclusion of a full food group can occasionally cause a few problems. However, most top class restaurants will have vegetarian options. It may only be one choice, however, so again it is best to check online (or phone up!) before deciding on a restaurant.

If dining at an expensive restaurant which doesn't have a vegetarian option on the menu, it is worth asking staff if they can prepare something without meat in it. More often than not, the chef will be more than happy to oblige.

Even restaurants like burger bars and pubs normally offer vegetarian options, and most tend to denote vegetarian dishes with a V symbol, making their identification even easier.

Finding vegan food, however, is slightly more difficult. It is usually vital to check online or call ahead to check if the venue caters for vegans. Few restaurants have specifically vegan option; however, the good news it that more and more dedicated vegan restaurants are popping up all over the country, both in our larger and smaller cities. There is no sign that this trend is going to stop either, and it can be expected that more high street chains to pick up vegan-friendly food in the future.

Allergies:
People with food allergies can't be considered picky eaters; it's not something that is optional! They often say that eating out is a nightmare for them and something they really dread. There are a few things to be done to make it easier so that everyone can enjoy the meal and the person with allergies won't have to sit in fear.

It really is worth checking with the restaurant beforehand, and quite a few online menus have allergy information on their menus. It hardly warrants mentioning that courtesy heightens the chances that staff will accommodate any requirements a person has, including ensuring that nothing someone can't eat goes near their food. There are instances where people's food allergies are so severe that they often cannot eat at restaurants: some allergies to nuts are unfortunately this bad. For the most part, however, people can get by with some pre-planned caution, also making sure they have their medication on hand in case of mistakes.

Finally, where complicated food orders are an inevitability, it is best to visit restaurants when they won't be overly busy. If staff are abnormally busy, they will be able to spend a lot less time on a specific order. In general however, good restaurants are keen to please customers and retain their business. With good planning, few obstacles are big enough to prevent diverse groups from enjoying the experience of dining out.

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Rob Kerry
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