Meet Me for Dinner! Dining Out with ALS

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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“How about we try that new place that just opened up near the mall?” 

I knew my husband was referring to the new restaurant in town. In the old days, I’d simply agree and that would be that. But now, living with ALS, I’ve learned a thing or two about what’s needed to help keep my adventures in dining just as enjoyable as they were before.

Food, in general, is a touchy subject for many with ALS, and so is accessibility. I always do an online search for the restaurant’s website to thoroughly scrutinize photos and check out their menu. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), places like restaurants have become accessible to all. But when having to navigate walkers, wheelchairs, and mobility devices, one can’t be too careful. Photos of the restaurant’s entrance and interior dining area give me a head’s up to any potential challenges.

Next, I check out their menu offerings and pre-select an item, plus a backup one. Oh, and what I pick definitely needs to be something I can bring home in a box. Why? Well, I don’t know about you, but when we’re seated and our food arrives, the strangest thing happens…

With my plate in front of me, I adjust my napkin, cut the first pieces of food and look up — only to see that my dining companions are nearly finished!

What? Have I been transported to another time dimension, or has the pace of eating become faster?

Disregarding my wonderful husband, who always could consume an entire meal in only eight minutes flat (15 minutes tops for Thanksgiving Dinner), our lives and the world we live in has sped up. Fast talkers, fast movers, and fast eaters. Even the restaurant staff seems to want to move things along.

So, rather than stressing out about the food on my plate and trying to keep pace, I focus instead on what’s around me. I know too well that over time many of us who live with ALS tend to become isolated from outside activities. Dining out gives us the opportunity to be among people, soak up the atmosphere, and see new things. Plus, it’s an automatic boost to our self-esteem and confidence to know we’re still capable of these types of excursions.

No doubt about it, ALS has made me appreciate and savor each of life’s moments. And yes, I’m an honorary member of the “one-thing-at-a-time club,” so in the end, I don’t mind that I’m carrying my meal home in a box.

Even though no two journeys are alike, and each of our stages of ALS and rates of progression differ widely from each other, I believe ALS patients can and should continue to participate in social activities, such as dining out.

All it takes is a little pre-planning, the help of your support team, and a good sense of humor.


ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today, or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Carol Mongiello avatar

Carol Mongiello

Right on! Over the winter months my husband and daughter and I would pick up my son who lives about one hour away. Usually on a Wednesday. He has als. He is confined to a motorized device and has to be fed orally. My daughter would explore the restaurants in the area and let me tell you she earned a A+ for her decisions. She investigated the facility and would call to confirm they would be able to accommodate us. We would also bring his communication deice [Tobi]. We were so engaged in each other I don't think I could tell you anything about the people seated around us. Our meals were great and the staff was great. Best thing about it is that als did not go out to lunch with us that day. Wishing you and your family well. Carol Mongiello.

Tim Bossie avatar

Tim Bossie

Awesome Carol! That is a fantastic glimpse into your families life. Thank you so much for sharing your lives with us and encouraging others who are fearful of doing this very thing.

Paul Sproule avatar

Paul Sproule

Thanks for your always helpful articles Dagmar.
I agree 100% that going out and participating in life beyond the house is important for my wife, myself, our family and our friends well being.
I care for my wife who was diagnosed with ALS 18 months ago. At this stage her ALS effects the upper throat (bulbar region) and the right side of her body. She is still able to walk, but unable to speak. Going to a restaurant when it is a bit quieter is good so everyone can hear her speaking app.
She can no longer swallow un-thickened liquids and most crunchy or large solid foods. She has a feeding tube. The tube works well as it takes away any concern she might not be getting enough water. Medications are dissolved and taken through the tube, tablets can be very difficult to swallow.
She can still swallow soft or blended food. There are lots of foods that are very tasty but still easy to swallow and we are always experimenting at home with different combinations. Chocolate mousse is a favorite!
Researching what's on the menu or even suggesting an alternative restaurant has worked for us. Catching up with our friends with a picnic in a park, or going to their places for dinner or a party works well if we have let them know beforehand what foods might be a problem. Everyone appreciates what to expect when notified beforehand. Sometimes we take our own food blender to make it easy for our friends to cook whatever they like, a blended home roasted chicken or a take away Japanese still tastes great even blended.
Paul Sproule
New Zealand

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Those are excellent tips! Thank you, Paul, for sharing them. Best wishes to you and your wife.

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