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I've used an email to send to restaurants and others to explain what I do and don't eat, after calling in advance to discuss it. The email is a follow-up once I've discussed it with someone. They've often asked for a list for the kitchen so I decided to update it with more specific lists of what I will and won't eat and I'd like your comments on the text below please! I try to find their menu online first so that I can make suggestions based on what they're likely to have available. I am happy for anyone to re-use parts of this if you need to contact restaurants. When choosing from a menu I always refer to avoiding dairy and obviously don't choose meat - those are my real red lines when eating out. Now I ask about coconut in Asian restaurants too. I found giving a very basic suggestion helps explain how I eat as well as what I eat and restaurants often want to go beyond this minimum.

I have been offered the chance to mix and match menu items to suit me, to have special dishes prepared, and in Portugal at a wedding I was given a tofu creme brulee as a dessert completely different to desserts eaten by everyone else. It was absolutely delicious :-) My starter was the same vegetable soup as the children on my table, and my main was tofu based when everyone else ate a lot of meat.

So here is the latest version of my email, which I haven't yet used but it's pretty much the same, just has clearer lists. Please post any suggestions, or reuse parts that help you, thank you, Sue

Email to restaurants
"I am successfully following a "very low saturated fat" diet to ease and improve symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and I am still walking unaided after 27 years! I hope that you can help me by providing food which supports my diet during my visit.

Essentially, I am now vegan, so no dairy or meat, but I do eat fish. I also avoid heated oils and only use extra-virgin olive oil in dressings. Would it be possible to have say, steamed or grilled fish of any sort, with either undressed salad or plain cooked vegetables, and fruit or sorbet for dessert please? Wheat and potatoes, legumes etc are all fine. To be clear:

I do not eat the following:
Dairy foods (milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt, ghee, etc)
Meat or poultry
Processed food and snacks
Coconut including butter and oil
Egg yolks
Cooking fats, heated vegetable oils
(I do eat Extra-Virgin Olive Oil if cold or only heated below 180 deg C)

I do eat all of these foods:
Fish and shellfish
Wheat and other grains, gluten
Vegetables, beans, peas and other legumes
Nuts, seeds (not coconut)
Egg whites
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (if cold or only heated below 180 deg C)

Thank you, Sue"
MS dx 1989, OMS Jan 2013
Hi Sue

I think this is great, and an idea I may steal! The only bit I think you may need to edit a bit is:

Cooking fats, heated vegetable oils (I do eat Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)

Make it clear that the EVOO shouldn't be heated above 180.

Thanks Rachel, good point, I'll update the entry here and my email. Sue
MS dx 1989, OMS Jan 2013
In order to keep it short (and more likely to be read and remembered) I would summarise what you can eat as:

Fish and shellfish
Tofu and soy
All grains
All fruit, vegetables and legumes
Nuts, seeds (not coconut)
Egg whites
Diagnosed June 2004
I'm with lym on this one: keep it short. Better still, ring ahead or google and find out what's on the menu. Often if there's nothing OMS edible on the menu, restaurants are only too happy to cater specifically to your needs (especially if the party you're going out with is going to spend a decent amount of money). In addition, there's nothing like the personal touch. Talking to a real person and having a conversation is probably the best way. Then when you arrive at the restaurant you're already prepared, the restaurant is prepared, and your entire party can be served in an efficient way.

Hi Donna and lym, thanks for your replies - I agree with you about speaking to someone first and I just realised that I was so focussed on the email content I didn't mention that I use it as a reminder after calling the restaurant! I don't just send them a random email out of the blue. There's usually some preamble about having spoken to someone in the restaurant or pub already. I've updated my post to clarify that I do call the restaurant first. I agree that it works best if you're going to a decent restaurant - it certainly won't work if you go somewhere that doesn't cook everything fresh and from scratch! Sue
MS dx 1989, OMS Jan 2013
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