How to Safely Dine Out with Food Allergies
As a person with food allergies, you often live your life in constant worry about accidentally eating the wrong foods, possibly containing your allergen. You may take extreme measures at times to avoid your food allergen at all costs. For some, that means they rarely dine out, and for others, the idea of eating out at a restaurant is not an option. Dining out with food allergies can be very difficult, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to cut it out altogether.
Continue reading to discover easy tips to dine safely with food allergies.
Pick the Right Restaurant
Before you dine out, you must consider one thing- what restaurant is the right choice? There are so many restaurant options out there, but when it comes to food allergies, you must choose a place that is both safe and allergy-friendly. Ask others for recommendations on good restaurants that can typically accommodate for food allergies or check online. You can search for food allergy-sensitive options near you that have been reviewed and recommended by other individuals with food allergies. Apps like Find Me Gluten Free and Allergy Eats can help you find restaurant options that are allergy-friendly. These apps rate restaurants based on their ability to accommodate individuals with food allergies. Choosing the right restaurant is probably the most crucial decision to make when it comes to dining out with food allergies.
Avoid Restaurants with Pre-Made Foods
When deciding which restaurant to go to, avoid risky options such as buffets, bakeries, or restaurants that serve pre-made foods and dishes/cuisines that often use nuts. Many Thai and Chinese places usually cook their food in peanut oil, making their food a potential risk for people with specific food allergies. Instead of buffets or similar restaurant, it is better to consider chain restaurants. At first, that may seem counter-intuitive, but chain restaurants are more likely to cook their dishes the same no matter the location since most of the food preparation and meals are standardized. You can also check out the restaurant’s website and should be able to find information as to whether the business is allergy-friendly.
Be extra cautious, call ahead, and ask to speak to the manager. The manager will be able to inform you if the restaurant can accommodate your food allergies and take the proper precautions to ensure your safety while dining out. Try to choose days and times when the restaurant is not that busy, as it makes it easier for the chef to prepare your meal properly.
There are some precautions you should take at the restaurant. Keep reading to learn about them.
Precautions At the Restaurant
Don’t be shy. Once you have arrived at the restaurant, be sure to inform the manager and the waiter of your allergies. Doing so will tell the manager that you have arrived so they may ensure that everything is handled correctly. Thoroughly inspect your seating area to make sure it is cleaned and sanitized. Remaining crumbs or residue on the table could pose a potential risk. If you are unsure, don’t be shy and speak up—your safety is what’s important. Speaking of safety, remember to bring your allergy card and EpiPen when eating out in the event of an allergic reaction.
When It’s Time to Order
When it is time to order, choose simple meal options. With complicated meals, there is more room for error and misunderstanding by the chef and or manager. Speak directly with the manager on duty to ensure that the correct information is getting to the chef directly. Ask the waiter what’s in your dish and how it is prepared. This will help you avoid the risk of any cross-contamination. For this reason, it may also be safe to avoid fried food because there is a higher risk for cross-contamination in fryers and grills.
After you have ordered, make sure that the chef or manager brings out your plate on its own and not with other dishes that may contain a food allergen. Depending upon the severity of your allergy, it may also be prudent to ask the other members dining with you to refrain from eating food that you’re highly allergic to, to lower your risk of a reaction.
Your meal is over, right? But what about dessert? Read on to find out what to do when dessert time comes.
After dinner, comes dessert, or does it? You may have to be extra cautious about desserts when dining; most restaurants outsource their desserts so they may not have a complete list of ingredients. In other words, if the dessert potentially contained an allergen, the manager or waitress would not be able to inform you of it. It may be safer to save dessert for later instead of taking the chance.
Last but not least, be sure to give praise to restaurants that can safely accommodate your food allergies. It can be challenging and time-consuming to provide safe, allergy-friendly meal options. When you find a good and accommodating restaurant, recommend it to others with food allergies, and especially include online reviews. You already know how tough it is to find an excellent allergy-safe restaurant, so spread the word.
Dining out can be a great opportunity to have a good time in the company of others, but for those with food allergies, it can be difficult finding the right place. You can never be too careful. Do your research ahead of time and save yourself a hassle. Choose safety first. And above all, use common sense.
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We also deliver community workshops as well as a free monthly informational workshop on the first Thursday of every month at 5:45 pm in our Chesterfield office.
Our free monthly workshop provides the public with information on our unique approach to allergy treatments and includes an opportunity to meet with our patients for a question and answer session. If you are interested in attending one of our free monthly workshops, please call our office at 314-384-9304 to reserve your space.