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Social Outings, Restaurants, Crohn’s & Supportive Friends

If you have Crohn’s disease, you likely already feel like social outings, going out with friends, sitting in restaurants, and participating in “normal” activities surrounding eating comes with new and diverse sets of fears and worries. I know for me personally, I spent years just simply avoiding all of the above, because it was much safer and required a lot less planning to stay home and maybe invite a friend over.

I hated trying to plan for any number of unpredictable or potentially embarrassing situations I could encounter while out and about, but the things that always rattled me the most were related specifically to food – what was I going to eat, when would I need to eat, and finally, what would my friends say about what I ordered or how much I ate.

About two years back, I started to feel caged inside my house and decided I needed to learn to work through these stressors.

Planning for social outings with friends

Let’s talk about planning for social outings and finding things on your own specific IBD diet to eat. First off, I am the chief of understanding that while my Crohn’s disease has a small menu of safe foods, what’s on my regular dining menu varies based on several things, including the status of my guts and the severity of my symptoms, also how long ago my last Remicade infusion took place, if I’m hydrated enough, or rested enough, etc. Next, I know there are some times (few and far between) I’m able to take small risks without my life flipping over, but the majority of the time that’s not the case! Finally, I know that my anxiety increases drastically if I can’t view the menu of wherever I’m going before I get there.

Choosing where to eat for Crohn’s disease

So, one of the most important things to me if I’m going to go out to eat usually means I pick the restaurant. With people I don’t know so well, I try to make this look like a helpful suggestion – offering two or three restaurants I know that I can find something to eat at, and having them pick the location or menu that is most agreeable to them. With my closer friends, they know the planning is a thing that helps me feel in control even when my Crohn’s is unpredictable. Unless they have a specific craving, my friends and family usually have no problem with my choosing where we go to eat.

What this looks like is that many times, it’s feasible to go out for American food – finding somewhat plain sandwiches or burgers can often be relatively easy. Oftentimes, going for Italian food is an easy yes because plain noodles are almost always on my stomachs “okay” list, meaning that worst comes to worst, I’ll find a fairly reasonable option to order. And sometimes, it means if I’m really craving Mexican food, I’ll go to a place I’ve eaten at before, and order a small portion of food.

How friends can support someone with Crohn’s disease

My friends have often asked me how they can be supportive and accommodating in these situations. In my experience, these are my people, the people who want to make things as easy and as minimal stress as possible, and while they might need a little guidance on IBD etiquette, they have the best intentions in the world. What I’ve learned is this can make a big difference in my comfort level, and I typically reply to the question in a way that sets up all future experiences in a positive manner as well.

I share with my friend that I am limited in what I can eat because of my Crohn’s disease. I only go into detail here if it’s comfortable, or a natural part of the conversation. I find that focusing so much on why I can’t eat things still causes me negative emotions, and I prefer to avoid it. This is not the case for everyone, so this is a space for you to share exactly as much as you’d like to! Next, if my friend asks what I’m ordering, or if I want to share some things, I tell them what I am going to order or what options I would have for sharing. I don’t think is much different than anyone else out to eat!

When the food arrives, if I feel uneasy, I’ll often choose to tell my friend or whomever I’m with that I’m not super hungry so I might not eat all of my food. If this is the case, I usually choose to follow that up with a comment about how great the other half will be for leftovers, but this is my own conversation diversion tactic 😉 The first time I get up to go to the bathroom during the meal, I also usually make a comment that I might be gone for a few minutes and not to worry, I didn’t fall in. I tend to find the humor tones down the awkwardness for me, but I also usually only go out to eat with people who already know I have Crohn’s disease and what it’s like for me. Finally, if I feel anxious during any part of the meal, I have started sharing this with whomever I am with. I’ve found for me, it’s way worse when I pretend it’s not happening.

What tips do you have for going on social outings and out to restaurants with your friends? I’d love to hear them below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • BeautifullyBroken
    1 month ago

    Now to appropriately answer…I stick to a bland diet, high protein, low residue. Yu know ur body best! As I’m also a nurse, personally I don’t think u can go wrong with ordering potatoes! Usually highly recommended as the contain various vitamins plus it’s easy to digest! Stick with what U know, chicken or salmon no skin!!!!!! Steamed veg, basmati rice is the absolute best, health wise and flavour wise. I have amazing recipes in 3 great Crohn’s Disease cookbooks that are fairly new, if you’re interested in them, their names, or specific dish, don’t hesitate to ask me!!!!

    Yours truly, Lisa (aka Beautifully Broken…as my tattoo says…that can he for tomorrow’s topic!!!) ☮️

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    Hi Lisa,

    You’re so sweet. And you’re welcome. Finding community has been so helpful for me in my IBD journey. I hope you have a great weekend!

    Warmly,
    Amanda (team member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    1 month ago

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks so much for all of your comments and for sharing some of your story too. I could not agree more – potatoes are always a safe food for me too 🙂

    I hope you’re feeling well today!
    Warmly,
    Amanda (team member)

  • BeautifullyBroken
    3 weeks ago

    You just seem like a warm, genuine, kind-hearted human!!!!! Thank u for taking the time to message me!

  • BeautifullyBroken
    1 month ago

    I may have placed my comment on incontinence below at an inappropriate time/subject matter…I apologize.
    SIDENOTE… I have been so curious to know what every Crohn’s/Colitis/IBD warrior would say the most important top 5 items are that you bring on out of town road trips??? ✈️⛵️⛽️⛱

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    1 month ago

    Hi Lisa,

    I just wanted to respond separately to your question about traveling with IBD. Here are a few posts that might help!

    https://inflammatoryboweldisease.net/living/pack-weekend-away/

    https://inflammatoryboweldisease.net/living/pack-important-trip/

    https://inflammatoryboweldisease.net/living/13-tips-traveling-ibd/

    Warmly,
    Amanda (team member)

  • BeautifullyBroken
    1 month ago

    I think its just good to always start your day by assuming you’re going to poop your pants. Now, although, we can try and sugar coat this fecal-starring main aspect of ur life, it’s better to laugh. I have my certain days set aside to cry & feel sorry for myself, as I play a sad compilation of what I already have listed for my funeraI (just incase).
    I have soiled myself more than any 37 year old female should in her entire lifetime x100. Now I’m talking the #1 public place being , for me personally, being the grocery store, around 4pm (as I was usually finishing my day shift as a full time nurse! Seriously!
    My ex had the most sympathetic pet name for me, the main one being, “Shitty McShitterton”. Now I’ve also been incontinent of feces while seated in my comfy drivers seat during road trips (I remember one particular time not having Kleenex, so this poor stuffed teddy bear , who remains in the bush around Vaughn, ON area, must still have nightmares if that day he lost his innocence. I’ve ruined every pair of pants, shorts, a couple cute washroom rugs & bathtub decor.
    You may wonder why on earth I would start with this topic? Easy! When I was diagnosed, there was nothing around that made me feel as though I was not alone during this journey. That was (&still is at times, a truly horrible feeling).
    I honestly hope that at least me joking about pooping my gitch, made one Crohnie smile or feel less alone.

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    1 month ago

    These are great tips, Amanda. I am a huge advocate of choosing the place to go to eat, or as you said, a few options, that I know are safe.

    When I first met my husband, I was 3 weeks post-colectomy surgery so I HAD to choose where to go and he loved my assertiveness. Of course, it took a few weeks for me to say why I chose the places to eat, but I think one of the worst qualities in people is indecisiveness so calling the shots instead of playing the “I don’t care, where do you want to go?” game was appealing.

    My diet is different than yours, in that I am gluten intolerant so Italian is typically the most difficult for me so I typically opt for Asian or sushi. Either way, when dining out in groups, I avoid places that encourage sharing plates and make it known that I will be ordering my own appetizer and entree. My friends are used to it by now, and I do not shy away from ordering what makes me comfortable, especially given my dietary restrictions 🙂

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    1 month ago

    Hi Julie,

    Thanks so much for the comment and everything you shared. I love the story you shared about dating your husband 🙂 I definitely agree about avoiding sharing plates too!

    Warmly,
    Amanda (team member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    1 month ago

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

    A tip I have that works for me is ordering fish. If it isn’t battered or fried, fish is always a great option for me to order. I never feel sick after and it’s easy to digest.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    1 month ago

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing! Fish and I have an on again, off again relationship, so I didn’t note it in the article. I know that every IBD patient has different safe foods so I’m really glad you shared yours!

    Warmly,
    Amanda (team member)

  • crystal.harper moderator
    1 month ago

    What great advice! It sounds like you’ve found an amazing tribe of incredibly supportive people. Thank you for sharing your take on ways that others can be supportive as well. I believe that most people usually do have good intentions, but not everyone knows what’s helpful or may even feel awkward asking! Best, Crystal

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    1 month ago

    Thanks Crystal!! I do agree that often, people have great intentions but don’t know when they might be upsetting us or saying things that make us more conscious of our IBD or limitations.

    Warmly, Amanda (team member)

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