Dining Out as an Allergic Teen

It’s difficult enough to manage food allergies when you are in charge of making your meals, but when the cooking is out of your control, there is a lot more stress.  Although dining in a restaurant can be scary, after some practice, you can expertly manage your allergies in the kitchens of others.

Without a plan, you might end up unable to eat anything at the restaurant, leaving you hungry and wasting your time.  That’s why it’s important to do your research. The first thing I do when I choose a place to eat is look for allergy menus or policies on the restaurant’s website.  Allergyeats (www.allergyeats.com ) is a helpful resource for finding safe restaurants near you. If a particular restaurant’s website does not seem allergen-friendly, try calling the restaurant for more information about how they can serve you safely, or look for other restaurants in the area with better allergy procedures.

I often find that the simplest foods are the easiest to get allergen friendly.  For example, a grilled chicken with broccoli is much easier to keep separate from cross contact then a fancier dish with all kinds of toppings and sauces where you would have to worry about each little part. But in the worst possible scenarios, you can always sit and enjoy your time and the restaurant with your family and friends and then make something for yourself once you get home.  Never feel forced to eat something if you do not feel safe.

Another thing that I find helpful when dining out is printing my list of allergens on a little business card that I can give to waiters.  When you have a long list of allergies, it can be overwhelming to a waiter to remember or write everything, and information can be left out by the time your order gets to the chef.  That’s why I make cardstock business cards that list everything they need to know.  If you want a template for a card that explains food allergies to chefs in addition to listing your allergies, I’d recommend https://www.foodallergy.org/file/chef-card-template.pdf .  FARE also makes chef cards that are translated into other languages for traveling abroad.

Eating out doesn’t have to be scary and as long as you communicate with your server and research the restaurant, you should be able to have a safe dining experience.  Don’t let your allergies remove you from a fun meal with your friends or family.  If you have any special tips or  rituals for when you go out to eat, be sure to share it with others in the comments section!

 

 

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