Eating at restaurants can be scary if you have food allergies. It is common to panic or avoid dining out. After following these simple steps, you will feel way more comfortable and in control when dining out!
1. Preview The Menu
Before making a reservation, you should always look at the restaurant’s menu you would like to dine at. That way, you can identify what allergens the restaurant uses in the kitchen for possible cross-contamination. If this makes you uncomfortable, we recommend you find another restaurant that carries a dish or a few that you know will be safe for you to eat. Also, don’t be afraid to call the restaurant ahead of time with any questions or concerns. Spokin has a great list of allergy-friendly chain restaurants and is safe to eat at, especially when on a road trip!
2. Inform Your Server with SelectWisely!
Most of the time, servers at restaurants will ask the party if there are any food allergies or dietary restrictions at the table. At that time, you will inform the server what your allergies are and ask them to avoid cross-contamination. Don’t feel bad about your food needing to be prepared separately. Your safety is both yours and the restaurant’s number one priority.
For younger children who can’t articulate their allergies that well, a great resource is SelectWisely! SelectWisely is a website where you can order personalized cards with specific information about your food allergies. You can hand it to your servers when dining out and eliminate any fears of them not understanding your allergies.
3. Double-Check Your Food When it Comes
When the server brings your food to the table, you should always inspect it before taking a bite. Ensure that any sauces or seasonings that were supposed to be taken out of the dish are not there. It’s okay to send your food back if it is not correct! Don’t feel guilty and pick around the allergen. You should be able to eat your food safely. After inspecting your dish, enjoy your allergy-free meal!
4. Always Have An EpiPen Ready to Use if Necessary
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to bring an EpiPen wherever you go! Even though restaurants are required to have EpiPens on sight, you should still always carry your own. Read our post on how to identify and treat an allergic reaction properly if you can unsure how to handle an EpiPen. Hopefully, this is never the case, but being prepared is extremely necessary for any situation!
5. Essential Questions To Ask
Make sure you ask these questions when dining out. They can help you choose whether you can eat there safely or not. Questions you can ask include:
- Do you have any (insert allergen) on your menu?
- Have you served customers with (insert allergies) before?
- Does the (specific dish) contain (the allergen), or is there a chance they can come into contact with (the allergen) when being prepared?
- What type of oil do you use for frying food?
- Does anything with (the allergen) get fired in the same fryer?
- Is there anything on the menu I should absolutely avoid?
It’s our mission to provide you with great resources while in town for your appointments. Let us know of the restaurants you have found that cater to food-allergic families!