This past week was one that was particularly rough on this writer’s stomach, and not due to some fancy new protein shake or quinoa recipe.
Instead, this writer was subjected to some pretty serious food poisoning from a early week visit to a local “restaurant” (and we use that term very loosely) for happy hour. No, we didn’t subject ourselves to all of that greasy and cheap happy hour food that usually gets students and young professionals flocking to the nearby bars and diners once 4 p.m. hits, but instead, this writer ate a Caesar salad. That’s right—a Caesar salad.
Caesar salads, while not the most nutritious in any fashion, have always been a favorite treat. However, this specific Caesar—whether made with old lettuce, bad dressing, or simply hemp oil since it was 4/20 and this establishment seemed to latch on to that fact—led to projectile vomiting every hour, on the hour, of the wee hours of night and morning.
Food poisoning sucks, and all of us who have had to endure it know that fact to the utmost. As described by WebMD, food poisoning can be fairly common, albeit presenting itself in different methods or to different extremes. In its most extreme, it can even lead to life-threatening problems for the affected individual, ranging from problems with E.coli to problems with listeria depending on what you ate. Luckily, this writer was only inflicted with some fairly disgusting projectile vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea—apologies for the gross images, but we have to be honest here.
From all of this summarized information, you may be wondering what you should do the next time you’re subjected to food poisoning, especially at a popular restaurant or a restaurant that at least is frequented regularly by members of the neighborhood (despite lacking in the “tasty” or “affordable” categories). Here’s a simple list of what to keep in mind.
1) The day after/the day of your food poisoning travesty, take it easy: For someone who works out six days a week for anywhere from two to three hours per day, it can be especially difficult to feel sick or gross and have to make the decision to miss a workout. Initially on Tuesday morning, this writer attempted to workout (this is after being up for nearly 3 hours during the night vomiting and running a fever), but had to stop fairly quickly. Remember: even if you think that you’ve gotten all the gross out of your person, you’ll most likely want to take at least a 24 hour break from any strenuous physical activity. You’ll also—kind of obviously—want to steer clear of any foods you think will further your symptoms. This includes, but is not limited to, fried foods, really rich sugary sweets, and dense carbohydrates like baked ziti (though delicious). Instead, grab your saltines, white rice, miso soup, and ginger ale, load the next episode of Game of Thrones, and relax (unless you’re well enough to go to school or work, and then do that first—just bring your helpful foods with you).
2) Check in with your friends to see if they were affected as well: Aside from taking care of yourself, make sure to also check in on whoever came with you to the establishment. As we (should) have all learned early on in life, it’s important to become a well-rounded and caring individual through not only caring for yourself but also caring for those around you. Check in with your friend(s) via call or text to see if they were affected by the yucky stomach monster as well, regardless of whether you ate the same meal or not. If they are also reeling, help them out with your bounty of “sickness” foods (listed above) and tell them to drink tons of liquids.
3) Look at former reviews of the restaurant/diner you got sick at to see if this has happened before: In all honesty, this checkmark can really just be a helpful factor for your sick self realize that you have a right to be pissed off (and you do, truly). However, aside from just adding fuel to your fire (hopefully you’re not that hell-bent, but it’s a good saying nonetheless), it can also aid you in realizing that the restaurant may have more problems with inducing food poisoning than you may have initially believed. In this writer’s search, nearly 20 food poisoning stories were discovered on the restaurant’s Yelp page—and that didn’t even include all of the complaints about nasty waitstaff, wrong orders, waiting 45 minutes to 2 hours for food, et cetera. Truly, and please keep this in mind, if a restaurant has over 20 pages of Yelp reviews with nearly 95% being negative, it’s probably best to steer clear.
4) Call or visit the establishment to see if you can get your money back: If you are strong enough the day after, check in with the restaurant/diner you got food poisoning from to see if you can be reimbursed. This should be fairly easy if the restaurant has a history of inflicting food poisoning on their customers and has as of yet not been shut down (as evident by their Yelp reviews), but it can also make the process fairly difficult. You see, if lots of people attack something you believe in, what are you going to do? Defend it to the utmost. There’s no real telling as to what you will get out of the situation, but it’s always best to try rather than question what would have happened. This checkmark is also more pertinent if you feel that you spent a ton of money on the food that got you sick and deserve to get it reimbursed; if you, instead, got sick at a run-of-the-mill fast-food chain or what have you, it’s less likely you’ll get that money back because your argument is really downplayed (really, it’s fast food, of course it got you sick).
5) Call your county or city’s Public Health office to report: Quite possibly the most important checkmark on this list is this one, because completing this step will help to ensure that other people do not get sick (or at least help to get the word out of what a hack this eatery is). Whether you live in a big city or a small town, your area should have someone to call in these types of situations, usually the county’s food inspector’s office. Google where to find them or call them, send in your report and check in if any of your symptoms get worse. Remember, Yelp reviews will only get a person so far—usually it’s just a way to blow off steam—but contacting someone who makes it their job to check in on food safety at local establishments can help your case. Don’t be scared of crying wolf; it’s likely you’re not the first case they’ve seen from this particular establishment.
Aside from keeping all of that in mind, it’s also important to remember to get better! Don’t get into too much of a huff over this situation, no matter how much it sucks. Just relax, drink your liquids, and remember not to go to that establishment in the future. Safe eating everyone!