As you may know, not eating out of your own home is next to impossible. You may be able to avoid it for a while, but at some point your going to have to. Eating out can be a very scary thing when you have food allergies, for me every time I do, I am risking my life. Having food allergies has slowed me down from dining out, but it hasn’t stopped me. This is what I do when I know I am dining out.
Call Ahead. First and foremost if you can, call the restaurant to ask all the questions you need to ask. This way you can decide if you want to go there. If you do end up going there, then you aren’t taking time away from the hungry people in your party.
- Ask for an Allergen Menu: Some restaurants like Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Dairy Queen have allergen menus. This comes in handy especially if you have multiple food allergies! Now mind you, even though these foods may say they are safe, you should always double-check.
- Ask again: Just because you may have eaten at this place 10 times, and gotten the same thing 4 times, doesn’t mean that this time it will be safe. Always double and triple check. Some restaurants especially small restaurants just get whatever is the cheapest at that time. So most of the time they might have canola oil, but this week they bought soybean oil because it was cheap.
- Sharing and Taking Food: When you are eating out, under no circumstances should you take food off of someone’s plate, or their fork. Just because your are supposed to be able to eat the fries doesn’t mean that the fries on your friends plate are safe, because they most likely didn’t take the same precautions with their food. The same goes for sharing drinks, if your friend is drinking something but they have eaten something you are allergic to, you can react to that. Trust me; I took a fry off of my significant others plate, and 5 minutes later I was plunging my epi-pen into my thigh and we where on the way to the hospital.
- Chef Card: These little wonders are an exceptional idea, I just found these while browsing the internet, and I can’t wait to use them. They are these little cards that you can print here. You write down your food allergens, hand them to the waiter and make sure they are on the order so the chef can see it.
- Checking oils specifically: If you are allergic to soybean oil, make sure you have the staff check, not only what oil they use, but also the specific oil ingredients. I go through this all the time, I tell them I am allergic to soy and they go check the oils. The come back and say “Oh your fine, its vegetable oil”. Well no I am not, because 99% of the time, that vegetable oil contains soybean oil. So always be specific!
- When in Doubt Get A Salad: If you are felling particularly nervous, don’t feel confidant in the staff, or if there is nothing else to eat, get a salad with olive oil and vinegar. It is extremely simple, and the rest of your party may feel guilty, but don’t let them! At least your alive, not suffering, and you got something in your tummy.
This is not a tip but when you are going out for a meal, especially with new people be aware that you are going to be talking about your allergens the entire meal.
Eating out can be scary. It is dangerous, and it is life threatening in a lot of people cases, but if you take precautions it can be an easy and enjoyable experience.