Eating Out With Food Allergies

As someone who has multiple food allergies/intolerances, I know from personal experience that restaurants can be tricky.  When you have to avoid a number of common ingredients, eating out makes one anxious

Parents of children with food allergies are understandably more comfortable eating their meals at home.  When they control the ingredients they can be sure their kids are safe.  However, there are a number of strategies that can make eating out safer for both children and adults with food allergies.

There was a poster presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting this week in Washington State.  Researchers at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies’ and Children’s Hospital explored strategies used to avoid allergic reactions in restaurants.

They found that those who had never had a reaction used more safety strategies than those who had had reactions.  Once a person had an allergic reaction, they tended to increase their use of safety strategies.  This makes sense, right?  Anyone who has had an allergic reaction is pretty motivated to avoid another one!

The allergens people reported included the most common ones like peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, wheat, eggs and soy.  85% of the participants were children, they were split evenly male-female, and most were white.

Safety strategies varied widely.  The most common strategies included

  • Talking to wait staff, manager and chef about allergies
  • Checking menus and ingredients on the restaurant website, if possible
  • Choosing restaurants that are allergy-friendly or have a low chance of contamination
  • Ordering meals with simple ingredients
  • Double checking with wait staff after food arrives

The researchers found that the more different strategies were used, the less likely reactions were.  They also advised that whenever eating out, those who have food allergies should always bring an EpiPen or similar treatment with them in case of a reaction.

I know from my own experience that eating out with food allergies can be tough.  However, if you or your family member has food allergies, you don’t have to give up restaurant foods.  Simple strategies can make eating at restaurants safer and more enjoyable!

QUESTION:  Do you or a family member have a food allergy?  What strategies do you use to make eating out safer?

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