Having a meal out with friends or family is an enjoyable activity. But some people with Parkinson's have told us they find the experience more difficult. We share some tips for dining out when you have Parkinson's, and hear from others with the condition about how they manage.
Choose a restaurant that serves your meal at your table. Or if you’re going to a buffet-style restaurant, make sure there's someone who can help you carry your tray back to your table.
If you can, time your meal for when your medication is working most effectively, so your symptoms will be well controlled.
I tend to avoid things that need cutting like steak or chops. I find it easier to cope with meals that I can eat with just a fork, like curry and rice.
Some people find protein can interfere with the effects of their levodopa medication. Protein can be found in foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, nuts, beans and pulses.
If this affects you, you may find it helpful to look at a restaurant menu ahead of your meal - most menus are available online.
And if you will be eating a protein-heavy meal, you should take your Parkinson’s medication at least 30 - 45 minutes before eating.
If you enjoy eating out, just go for it. On holiday last year I had a particular problem with swallowing - the restaurant was so understanding that they offered a refund. Life is not so bad when there are people like that around.
Bladder and bowel problems are common in people with Parkinson’s. If you experience these symptoms and are worried they might affect you during your meal, ask for a table closer to the toilets.
If you find it more comfortable to sit in a seat with arms for example, or it makes it easier for you to get into and out of a chair, call ahead to the restaurant and ask if they can accommodate your needs.
We still enjoy going out for meals. We tend to go out fairly early evening when I'm more likely to last the evening. I've always been quite a slow eater and even more so now. I also find it easier to eat with just a fork, but I often used to do that anyway.
You may find it easier to eat food from a bowl than a plate for example, or soup from a mug rather than a bowl. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiting staff if that’s possible when you order your food.
Don’t forget to bring any specialist items that help you eat and drink with you. For example, you may use specially designed cutlery if you have reduced grip or a tremor, or a place mat made of a tacky material that you use under a plate or bowl to stop them moving around. Read more about equipment for eating and drinking.