Updated on January 4, 2017
Tips for dining out with food allergies
I have never really been a fan of eating out. I think mostly because I was sick most of the time, knowing it had something to do with food, but not having a clue as to what the culprits were. Plus I’m a picky eater which doubles as a cheap date. Simple, easy dishes make me very happy. Big, elaborate, sit down meals stress me out. What a weird-o, right!?
Though I don’t love eating out, I do try to live as normal as possible with tons of food allergies. Mike loves going out for a nice meal, it’s convenient when you’re out and about, and we go on road trips for 2 weeks at a time. I’m no professional, but I do know how to navigate almost any menu, communicate efficiently & very nicely with the chef and recruit the server to help.
It can be stressful because you are giving up control over every single ingredient that goes into your body to someone you don’t know. It’s a big leap of faith and trust in a stranger. So try not to piss them off, mmkay!
Here are some tips I find helpful with ordering meals at restaurants when you have food allergies:
- Dine out during slower or off times if possible.
- Recruit your server. Be very nice and clear as to what you are allergic to. I usually lead with I can’t stand being a micromanager and sympathise with them over how inconveniencing my ridiculous allergies are. So far, I haven’t had a horrible experience eating out yet! Just be cool with them and they will likely want to help.
- Offer simple swaps & suggestions. For example if we’re at a burger joint, I’ll ask for plain boneless, skinless chicken breast to be cooked in a clean pan & utensils with EVOO, salt & pepper. (Yes, food cooked on the same grill as beef makes me incredible sick even when it’s scrubbed clean)
- Genuinely thank the chef if you get the opportunity.
- Be happy with a simple meal. One time I ordered chicken like above, plain steamed white rice & sliced avocado. I’ll never forget how such a simple meal made me so happy. It gave me peace of mind that it wasn’t going to make me feel like death and sadness.
- Go to Vegas. If you needed another reason to vacation in Sin City, here it is! Vegas is hands down the most food allergy friendly city I’ve ever visited. I highly recommend El Segundo Sol <-very accommodating & my favorite & nothing beats Giada De Laurentiis.
- Leave a generous tip. Sincerely thank them again at the end of the meal for being so awesome, especially if you plan to return. They will remember you and will likely be happy to accommodate you next time.
- Eat before dinner parties, offer to bring an (allergy friendly) side at a get together & bring snacks. Chances are you will be able to find something that is safe, but sometimes we’re left with a salad and french fries, which is a total score in my book!
If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear them!
Do you like elaborate sit down dinners, or do you prefer a more simple meal?