Tips on eating out with Parkinson’s

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14th June 2024
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Tips on eating out with Parkinson’s

Tips on eating out with Parkinson’s

Eating out should be an enjoyable activity.  However, for those living with Parkinson’s unexpected challenges can diminish the enjoyment and discourage many from eating out. Following are some tips which may help.

Choose a restaurant that serves you at your table. Buffet-style restaurants mean you will need to carry your tray and/or dinner plate and a drink to your table.

This can add stress and difficulties when managing a tray with a tremor. There is also risk in concentrating on the tray instead of where you are walking, which can potentially cause a fall.

Make your reservation early, so you miss the busiest restaurant times, and you are eating out at a time when your medications are most effective. Booking earlier, maybe 5pm instead of 6pm will give you quicker seating, faster food service and a more private dining experience.

Check in advance

  • Contact the restaurant or look at the menu on its web site beforehand – especially if you will need specific food choices due to dietary restrictions.
  • Confirm the restaurant has accessible facilities and policies and ask about any special concerns such as wheelchair-accessible seating or chairs with armrests – which make it easier to get in and out of the chair and table.
  • When calling ahead, if you use wheelchairs or other mobility devices confirm that the restaurant is near accessible parking and offers easy access to the dining area.
  • Confirm that you can get through the main entrance door and that any stairs or steps can be ‘ramped.’   Also ask where the toilets are located, whether they can be accessed, and check the availability of an accessible toilet facility.
  • Ask if the restaurant’s dining tables and seats are height accessible – should you want to transfer from the wheelchair to a seat – and whether your chair or walker can be moved to an area with less traffic.

Difficulties with speech

Most restaurants are happy to assist if you experience difficulties with speech. The restaurant’s employees should allow you enough time to speak or supply a pen and paper if you request it.

You can also ask if they can supply bendable straws, a glass or plate of a different size, and whether they can cut difficult foods into bite-sized pieces before serving and only fill drinks halfway to lessen spills or burns.

If you have your own utensils – such as cutlery, straw, cup, sticky placemat, plate, or bowl – think about bringing them to the restaurant to make eating easier.

If you experience eating, swallowing and saliva problems please speak to your health management team for ways to improve and manage these issues.

Your Speech Pathologist can identify specific areas of eating difficulties such as, poor posture, lip seal, swallowing problems, tongue awareness – and suggest ways to improve these problems.

Your Physiotherapist can give advice on exercises to improve posture so that saliva doesn’t pool at the front of your mouth, and your Occupational Therapist can advise on seating that will improve swallowing.  Your GP or specialist can also advise on medications which can help you.

So don’t give up on joining your friends and having the pleasure of dining out.  Think ahead and plan your meal experience, and you can make sure everybody has an enjoyable evening.