Going out to eat with a food allergy can be a little scary, but fortunately, more and more restaurants are becoming aware of food allergies and the need to accommodate guests who have them.
Going out to eat with a food allergy can be a little scary, but fortunately, more and more restaurants are becoming aware of food allergies and the need to accommodate guests who have them. Before you go out to eat, ask your allergist to recommend allergy-friendly restaurants. Many times, larger (chain) restaurants are good choices, because they have standardized recipes and are increasingly aware of allergens. Buffet restaurants, ice cream parlors and bakeries have a greater risk of cross-contamination, and restaurants that serve pre-made foods provide less opportunity for a chef to customize your meal. A great resource is the website AllergyEats.com, where you can search for allergen-friendly restaurants near you.
Once you have decided on the restaurant, call ahead to explain your allergy and see what the restaurant can do to accommodate you. Then, once you arrive, make sure you tell your server that you have an allergy and need to know what is in the dish you are ordering and how it is prepared. You can also ask to speak with the manager, who should be helpful in communicating your needs to the back of the house. Also, be weary of items that might have hidden sources of nuts (without explicitly stating “nuts”), such as pesto, meat alternatives, mortadella sausage (pistachio), cereals, chocolates, frozen desserts, and barbeque sauce. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has more great tips on dining out with an allergy here.