Eating Out with Allergies: 5 Tips Everyone Should Know

Food allergies are a common occurrence, and while they can be serious, it doesn’t have to mean your days of eating at your favorite restaurants are over!

Nowadays, there has been a great increase in restaurants’ awareness and attentiveness to those with food allergies. Many now offer menus and substitution options fitting for those with specific dietary needs.

If you or anyone in your family is living with a food allergy, follow these tips next time you decide to eat out to help ensure your peace of mind!

1. Know the allergy inside and out

As with any medical condition, the first step is to know everything about your allergy. You should know specifically what allergen causes your reaction, and any other names it is known by. What are your symptoms and how severe are they? If you have a reaction, what should be done (for example, use the EpiPen tucked in your bag)? Your doctor or allergist is always available to help you in answering these questions!

2. Research the restaurant before choosing where to go
Check out the website and any reviews and ratings of the restaurants you’re choosing between. Look to see if they specify attending to specific dietary needs, or simply if the menu has dishes that won’t trigger a reaction. If you cannot find anything online, try giving the restaurant a call and simply asking a manager!

3. Call ahead and speak to a manager or chef
It’s important to make sure you’re taking every step necessary to ensure your safety during your meal. Calling ahead and speaking with a manager or chef regarding your allergy is a good way to make sure your meal is paid close attention to. Let them know when you will be at the restaurant, what your allergy is and ask if they will agree to accommodate your specific needs. If you’d like, let them know the meal you plan on getting so the chef can prepare for you in advance.

4. Strategic arrival at the restaurant
Once you’ve arrived at the restaurant, be sure to let the host or manager know. If possible, make your dinner plans early (when or soon after the restaurant opens). That way, there is less of a chance for cross-contamination since the kitchen is fresh and clean before the rush. Your server will also be able to pay closer attention to you since they won’t be distracted by other tables.

5. Once everything goes well
Being attentive to food allergies takes focus and time, and it is important to let the server, manager and chef know your appreciation once you’ve happily finished your meal. By doing so, you can ensure you’ll receive the same attentiveness next time–plus, it is polite to be grateful! Log on to rating and review websites and leave your feedback about how well–or poorly–the restaurant was able to abide by your allergy to help others with the same allergy enjoy a night on the town!

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