When your child is first diagnosed with food allergies, you are plunged into a completely unfamiliar world. Suddenly the simple act of shopping and cooking feels like a military level operation. It’s no wonder that many people with food allergies find the thought of eating out in a restaurant completely overwhelming. What used to be relaxing now feels fraught with uncertainty. But rest assured that, with a bit of advance planning, you will be able to enjoy a family meal out. Liljia, allergy mum and founder of Allergy Companions, knows all the challenges you are facing. She is sharing the Allergy Companions top tips for eating out safely – so you can relax and enjoy your meal x
Eating out with food allergies or coeliac disease – the Allergy Companions guide
Allergy Companions completely understand that eating out with allergies can be a stressful experience. Many of us avoid booking a meal out altogether for the fear that something might go wrong, or simply because we don’t know where to start. To make your life a little bit easier, and to give you that bit of courage you need to organise a lunch or evening out, we have put together some easy to follow steps. You don’t have to follow all of them. but they should give you enough guidance on what to look for and what you should strongly avoid.
Do your research!
- If you have found a restaurant or pub you like the look of, get a feel for the place. Check their online menu and if you’d like to have some more information, give them a call.
- If you don’t know where to start, there are already lots of recommendations on AllergyCompanions.com!
- When you call the restaurant, try to avoid the lunch and dinner rush. That way they will have the time to talk to you and answer your questions.
- Ask to speak to the manager or someone who is able to answer allergy related queries. Maybe say something along the lines of “please can I speak to someone who is knowledgeable about allergens?”… It normally helps!
Listen to your gut instinct at all times
- If you don’t get a good impression on the phone… chances are that you will probably not have a great experience dining there either! Not all restaurants are welcoming to those with allergies, so there is no point in wasting your time with them and potentially putting you or your child at risk.
- If you’re happy with the way your conversation went, you may want to go ahead and book a table. Feel free to double check they have understood everything you have discussed, to make sure they are clear on all your requirements.
- Ask the restaurant (especially if they are independent) if it would be easier for you and them to pre-order your dishes. Some venues are incredibly good at catering for people with food allergies, and it actually makes their life easier to know what you and your party are having. That way they can be extra sure that everything will be safely made for you.
- If you are eating out with children, having your food pre-ordered might actually make your life easier anyway! So it is definitely worth discussing it with the food venue.
On the day
- Before you leave, it might be an idea to call the venue to remind them of your dietary requirements… just in case there is someone new working or the usual chef is not around that day.
- When you arrive, be sure to remind your server that your table has specific dietary requirements, so they know to take extra care that day. They may send someone more senior to serve your table. If you ever feel the person serving you doesn’t understand your requirements, request to speak to the manager.
- Never be afraid to double – or triple – check. If at any point you’re not sure you have been served safe food, please make sure to clarify this with the person serving you, the manager or the chef. It’s your right to feel comfortable with what you are eating, so you mustn’t feel embarrassed to ask questions. It is better for you to ask questions than for the meal to end up badly. We launched Allergy Companions because we were served food our son is allergic to!
- If you don’t feel happy with the way you are being looked after or made to feel – then always remember you can just leave! You are there to enjoy a safe, and enjoyable, meal.
- As ever, always bring your medicines with you.
- Once you have made sure all the boxes are being ticked by the venue, relax and enjoy your meal!
- Submit a review on the Allergy Companions website and share your experience with other diners, so they know what to expect. Sharing is caring ❤️
We hope you have found this article useful. If you have any comments or feedback, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org ☺️
Thanks so much to Liljia for sharing these tips. If you’ve got any of your own tips to add, then comment below!
Need some support?
If you’re looking for support with managing your child’s allergies, have a look at my post all about the free support resources available to help parents and carers. And make sure to check out the Allergy Mums Club Stories section for more helpful advice and tips from other allergy parents x
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