Food Allergies in the Real World: Restaurants

Food allergies are a condition that can, if not taken seriously, result in severe reactions.  Tackling restaurant menus and navigating supermarket aisles can be difficult.  Even professional athletes can face this problem and Team FitNice is no exception.  In this educational series of posts we’ll cover some good ways to prevent coming in contact with allergens in restaurants, at school, in the grocery store and when you travel.

Food allergies don’t have to stop you from enjoying meals at restaurants with friends.  Here are 5 Tips for Avoiding Allergens in Restaurants:food allergies in restaurants

1)  Check out restaurants before you go.  Asian cuisine features peanuts and staffers in outlets with pre-made meals might not know what’s inside the package.  Buffets typically offer lots of choices for eats who have to be choosy.  Ask friends, family and doctors to recommend food allergy friendly establishments then research menus and read reviews.

2)  Call ahead.  Call during off-peak hours and ask if the restaurant is willing to take care of your needs.  If so, ask if the staff is trained to deal with a food allergen free diner and if any specialty meals are available.  Give them as much information as you can and make sure the person you spoke to will be there when you plan on visiting.

3)  Communicate with staff.  Your server might not know everything about how the food they serve is prepared.  Speak with a manager or, ideally, the chef to make your dietary needs and restrictions clear.

4)  Keep meals simple.  Restaurants can offer up complicated dishes with lots of ingredients.  Ordering simple, not plain or boring, plates can help ensure your food doesn’t come into contact with any unwanted allergens.  Avoid fried food, which is a hot bed for cross-contamination, and know that dessert is often a source of hidden allergens.

5)  Ask for your plate to be delivered separately.  If simply touching an allergen can induce a reaction, stacked plates can be trouble.  Make sure your servers knows that your food shouldn’t come in contact with any other food or china.  When your meal arrives at the table, double check your instructions were followed and the food was prepared properly.

Remember that the best medicine is prevention.  Always be ready to treat an allergic reaction should contact occur.  Having a bronchodilator or epinephrine pen (if prescribed) within reach at all times is a sure fire way to make sure you’re safe from a severe reaction.  Use these tips and be prepared to a great night out the next time you walk into a restaurant.

Have questions about managing your food allergies when you dine in a restaurant?  Ask your doctor or send us an email at

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