The Savvy Diner's Guide: How to Dine Out Safely with Food Allergies
When you or someone you love has food allergies, dining out can be a daunting task. We all know that feeling of dread when you’re looking over a menu and realize there’s nothing you can eat. With so many hidden allergens and cross-contamination risks, it's important to take precautions to ensure a safe dining experience.
Thankfully, with some preparation and knowledge, dining out can be a fun and safe experience for everyone involved. Whether you have a dairy, gluten, or soy allergy, the tips and resources we’re outlining today can help you navigate dining out with ease.
#1 Research before you go
First and foremost, research is key to helping you find safe dining options. When choosing a restaurant, look up their menu online and call ahead to ask if they can accommodate your specific needs. Don't be afraid to call ahead and ask questions about how the food is prepared, what ingredients are used, and if they have any cross-contamination measures in place.
Keep up-to-date on the latest food allergy news and research, and always be on the lookout for new resources and tips to make dining out with food allergies easier. There are a number of apps and websites that can help you find safe dining options. AllergyEats is a great website that allows you to search for restaurants based on their allergy-friendliness ratings so that you can select a restaurant that’s able to cater to your specific allergies. The Find Me Gluten Free app is also a useful tool for those with gluten allergies.
💡 Pro Tip: Avoid buffets and shared serving utensils altogether as these can increase the risk of cross-contamination.
#2 Communicate with the staff
It's also important to communicate with the restaurant staff about your food allergies. Be clear and specific about what you can and cannot eat, and emphasize the severity of your allergies. Ask them to communicate with the chef about any cross-contamination risks and don't be afraid to ask for a special accommodation or a substitution if necessary. A good restaurant will take your concerns seriously and make sure your food is prepared safely.
💡 Pro Tip: Remember to always advocate for your needs and never be afraid to ask questions or bring your own food.
#3 Bring snacks
Another tip is to bring your own snacks or a small meal for yourself in case there are limited or no safe food options on the menu. Yes, this is less than ideal, but this can help prevent any accidental ingestion of allergens (better to be safe than sorry!) It's always better to be prepared, and you’ll be glad that you have a snack handy in the event that the restaurant can't accommodate your dietary needs.
💡 Pro Tip: Have questions about the ingredients we use here at PNW Cookie Co.? Head over to our Nutrition & Ingredients page for all the details.
#4 Choose simple dishes
When it comes to ordering, opt for simple dishes that are less likely to contain hidden allergens. Grilled meats, steamed vegetables, and plain rice or potatoes are all great options. Avoid dishes with sauces or marinades, as these often contain allergens like dairy, soy, and gluten.
If you're unsure about a particular dish, don't be afraid to ask the server to double-check with the kitchen. It's better to be safe than sorry, and a good restaurant will be happy to accommodate your request.
💡 Pro Tip: Always carry allergy medication with you, such as an EpiPen, in case of an emergency.
#5 Stay positive
Finally, don't forget to bring a positive attitude and sense of humor! Dining out with food allergies can be stressful, but it's important to stay positive and make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Laugh off any mistakes or misunderstandings (within reason), and enjoy the time spent together with family and friends.
Back to You
Dining out with food allergies can be challenging but it doesn't have to be a stressful experience. With a little research, communication, and a positive attitude, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience. By utilizing these tips and resources, you can navigate your food allergies a little easier and still enjoy dining out with family and friends. Happy dining!