08/21/2014 05:43 EDT | Updated 10/21/2014 05:59 EDT

Dating With Digestive Issues, Food Allergies and Intolerances

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Six weeks after I met my husband I began a strict candida diet, which included avoiding all sugar (even fruit), wheat, dairy, yeast and alcohol.

I had a feeling he was a special fella when he took these enormous changes in stride, offering enthusiastic support and encouragement, even going to the trouble of baking allergen-friendly cupcakes for my birthday. ('Course, I'm sure those actions weren't entirely altruistic -- he probably wanted to impress me and increase his chances of certain clothing-optional activities. I'll bet if I made these changes today after years of marriage, he'd say, "Good luck, sweetie. Let me know how it goes.")

While not a requirement, first dates often involve activities like eating at restaurants and going out for drinks. When you've got food allergies or intolerances, a digestive disorder, or simply like to eat clean, many restaurants become a minefield of potential dangers and embarrassing moments.

That doesn't mean you have to skip culinary outings altogether, though. Here are some tips and tricks to make it through the whole dating thang without poisoning yourself.

Be Honest

Not long after we began dating, my husband remarked, "Wow, you're awfully open about all this bowel stuff." I've always been up front about my experiences with Crohn's disease -- it's a huge part of my reality, and it was even more prevalent years ago, when I had tons of symptoms.

You don't need to go into explicit detail about the shape, size and consistency of your bowel movements, but if you've got a digestive disorder, Celiac disease, a food allergy or a food intolerance, explain to your date what that means and why it's important that you avoid certain foods. You're not being a picky eater, a crazy health nut or a drama queen -- safe food is vital to your health and wellbeing.

Pick the Restaurant

Since you're the one with some dietary limitations, suggest a restaurant that you know is safe. Many spots nowadays are very accommodating to those of us with food restrictions and offer special menus. Your best bet is to stick to restaurants that use fresh, whole ingredients -- as it's more likely they'll be able to adapt or change a recipe to suit your needs.

Call Ahead

If you're trying out a restaurant you've never been to, call in advance and notify them about your restriction. Be specific about what you can and can't eat, and the severity of your allergy or intolerance. If you know you'll go into anaphylactic shock if you consume a speck of almonds, let them know. Ask if they can accommodate you and ensure they note your dietary needs along with the reservation.

Have a Night In

This isn't first-date territory, but once you've confirmed the object of your affection won't chop you to bits and scatter you by the side of the road, invite him or her over for dinner. This way, you'll be guaranteed a delicious meal and you won't have to worry about unpleasant reactions. Even better -- ask your date to cook with you, especially if you see the relationship going somewhere. It's never too early to start educating 'potentials' about allergen-friendly cooking techniques!

What is your best advice for how to date when you've got allergies, intolerances or digestive issues?


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