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Dining out with MS ActiveWellness

People with MS have more to consider when meeting family and friends at their favorite restaurants. Sometimes, when having a long meal or staying up late, fatigue can play a role. For those who may have challenges with mobility, finding a comfortable restaurant with accommodations may be important. Below are helpful tips on how to plan and enjoy a meal out.

When planning a night out

Does it have to be dinner?
If you're most fatigued during the evening hours, think about doing brunch, lunch, or an early dinner instead. Before 6:00 p.m., restaurants are the least crowded and the staff may have more time to accommodate your needs.

Pick a restaurant with good parking.
Or if you're traveling with a friend, have that person drop you off at the entrance.

Make a reservation.
This may sound obvious, but standing on your feet for 30 minutes isn't easy when you have MS fatigue. So make sure you call ahead.

Ask ahead if you have special needs.
If mobility is an issue, ask for a table that's close to the entrance or has plenty of space. If you need handicapped parking, call ahead to see if the parking layout will work for you.

Take a nap before you leave.
Make sure you're rested before your dinner reservation. A good nap can help maintain your energy levels.

Check out the menu before you go.
Many restaurant menus are available online. Making decisions when you're hungry isn't always the healthiest way to go.

Ask someone else in your party to do the driving.
Some people with MS have trouble driving after dark. When possible, consider having a friend drive for you.

Choose a table away from the kitchen.
Kitchens generate lots of heat, which can aggravate heat-sensitivity and cause discomfort.

Ordering tips

Make healthier food choices.
Order fish, chicken, lean cuts of beef or a low-fat vegetarian entree. The difference between a broiled chicken breast vs. fried can be hundreds of calories. Look for foods that are boiled, baked, broiled or grilled. Stay away from fried foods.

Watch out for hidden calories.
Avoid creamy sauces and gravies. They're filled with fat, often high in calories and sodium, and pack on pounds. Have your server bring your dressing on the side.

Say no to dough.
Don't indulge in the bread basket. Bread can fill you up with empty calories and keep you from having a healthy meal.

Cut your meal in half.
Most entrée portions are enormous. Some restaurant meals, or even some appetizers, contain more calories than you need in an entire day. Eat half and bag the rest for the next day's lunch. Having leftovers for lunch not only saves you the time to prepare another meal, but also saves money.

Cut down on eating sugar.
Being healthy doesn't mean forgoing dessert. It's just about portion control. Think about splitting a dessert with the table, or taking a few bites and taking the rest home.

Know when to say when.
Only indulge in alcohol in moderation. Some people with MS find alcohol temporarily exacerbates MS symptoms. To quench your thirst, choose water with lemon slices, iced tea or a diet soft drink instead.

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