I will be the first one to tell you, that dining out is a nightmare, and when you add family travel, or just travel in general into the mix, hold on to your stomachs because the road to your belly is about to get bumpy. The first step of any good traveling and dining experience with food allergies is OPENING your mouth and communicating, if you can do that much, you are halfway through the battle ground.
A golden rule of dining out with food allergies or traveling with food allergies is communication because not telling is what gets people into trouble and ‘trusting’ things will be fine. Don’ ts shame yourself for having food allergies it is a widely accepted condition, trust me, as a mom of a child with severe food allergies that can KILL him, I advocate, I open my mouth and I take charge.
If you can’t get what you need at the place you are in, walk out and let’s look at __ tips for traveling and dining out with food allergies. Lavishly live travel and dining with food allergies out loud and indulge in all we can!
Tips For Traveling And Dining Out With Food Allergies
Packing food everywhere you go sucks, and I can tell you this from the bottom of my lunch box. My child has severe food allergies and dining out and traveling is an absolute nightmare. Preparedness is key to any vacation, or dining out plans and trust me, even with careful planning, and speaking UP things go wrong, because people don’t always process the problems nor do they always GET IT.
What I have learned is that if a place, a dining facility, or anywhere that serves food does not have an answer for a food, we don’t dine there, because they should KNOW their food, their products and be able to tell you how things are prepped.
You need to get ‘wicked’ with being your own advocate, and OWN it, because trust me, speaking up is the road to safety, when you are traveling and dining out, or just going out to eat. Let’ s move on and learn how to speak up and what to say.
We travel a lot for both business and pleasure and no matter where we are, I speak up, and am in the process of training him to do so as well, when ordering and inquiring about foods on the menu.
If you think I am not worried about our trip, you are totally wrong, I just know a few of the places from being there before, so I am better equipped to handle the challenges. On our upcoming trip to Disney World and Busch Gardens, we have already inquired to see if our son can eat and where. We have worked with Disney many times before, so we know that we can safely maneuver through their parks and dine, and this will be the first time with Busch Gardens. Al Capone’s is able to work with us as well, since we called ahead and made arrangements. Places like the Medieval Times serves Gluten Free, and Vegetarian Options as well, so you can see, people get you so don’t be TIMID!
If you don’t want to open your mouth at least Print this card I had made for my son, and we use it everywhere we go, Fill in your ALLERGIES and hand it to them. Print multiple copies, laminate it, just keep it with you at all times. When we travel, I have it translated into whatever country we are traveling to, it is that easy to do!
To Print this card, just touch the image and then you will be able to print this PDF.
Tip #1 Open That Mouth And Let The Words Flow
The biggest mistake made by those suffering from food allergies, specialized menu needs and conditions is the feeling of being a ‘loser’ because you have these issues. Hello, this is 2016, you are not a loser, you are a person, with real issues, and for your LIFE you must SPEAK UP, and ADVOCATE because no one is going to wipe up your spilled beans if you don’t. Now that we have that established, let’s move on.
#2 Check In Please
Upon Arrival Head straight to the CHECK IN Booth & ask to speak to a FOOD MANAGER – to see if you are even a candidate to eat there. List out your food allergies or hand them this list. Identifying your food allergies straight up on this list will save you time and may possibly save your life. Help the food servers and managers help you, so you can DINE OUT and travel with ease.
#3 Cross Out Cross Contamination
Cross contamination is a way that we have had issues over and over and it is the toughest mountain to climb when dining out, when traveling, etc. The discussion of what is cross-contaminated in a kitchen is so important. For us, anything in the fryer, creates the big old NO to french fries. Breading is a no no for GF, seafood in a fryer is the kill-joy for those with seafood allergies and nuts can be in anything
Another fine example: Our son is allergic to latex, and while the staff is wearing VINYL or plastic gloves, the Sous Chefs used Latex. Suddenly we are not able to dine there, because ANYTHING that comes into contact with Latex can not come into contact with our son, as he will go into anaphylactic shock. We have had it happen, at a very large food purveyor that is nationwide and funny they tout the ability to feed without issues, but it just NEVER happens.
Latex gloves were used in the salad preparation as well as the fruit cups, and both were suggested as SAFE foods, even though we explained the Latex situation and we were assured that it would be fine, etc. Guess what, it was not fine and 3 days home from school is what our son scored as a result of a cross-contaminated meal. While Latex Gloves were not used for serving, they failed to check who used what when cleaning the grapes. Fun times.
#4 Off Peak It
Have you heard of Off-Peak Dining when traveling? It is the same as off-peak seasons, you simply go when the traffic is lowest at the restaurant. We have done this and I do feel like a scene from out of Seinfeld, it is well worth the time as the staff is way more attentive to the food allergies and the meals being prepped. Try to Visit a restaurant during non-peak hours so that the food manager can FOCUS on your meal every step of the way
#5 Foil The Situation
Oh what we have learned from Cross Contamination and the grill. Just because a burner gets Flaming hot, does not mean that the contamination is not there from previously cooked foods that might have contained nuts, egg, dairy, honey, etc. Unless they are going to wash down your section of the grill as that your item be cooked either in a freshly cleaned pan (non cross contaminated) or on a piece of foil and YES restaurants will do this. You are going to FOIL the situation and save yourself illness.
#6 Get Them Washed Up
While food service workers and managers are already all about the hand washing, did you know that many restaurants will also accommodate, by washing hands, and prepping food on a solitary surface? This makes food prep, t non cross-contaminated but you HAVE TO OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND ASK! From work surfaces to utensils and anything in between, ask for them to be cleaned, so you can eat out and not be dining in the hospital!
The challenges will forever be present in our world when it comes to dining out with food allergies, and remember while one allergy burdens one person, different allergies burden others. People do not have the same food allergies so no meal will be prepared the same. Ask questions, ask for who is in charge, they never mind and if they do– WALK AWAY! Print out my card, laminate it, present it to any food service place you go to, and get accommodated because you ASKED. Lavishly live my 6 Tips For Traveling and Dining With Food Allergies out loud and enjoy that meal!
I am not a Dr., and my tips are based on my interactions with restaurants around the nation. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the brands, restaurants etc and ask questions, I DO!