So, you've recently been diagnosed with a food allergy. Suddenly, you have to be a little more careful about the ingredients in your food. This can be difficult enough when it comes to shopping at the grocery store or preparing food at home, but things can become especially complicated when you're eating out. To avoid a medical emergency, there are some important precautions you'll need to take when dining out with a food allergy.
DO Be Careful Around Buffets
Buffets can be a delicious and budget-friendly dining option. And since you get to pick and choose what goes on your plate, you can easily avoid foods you're allergic to, right? Not necessarily. Due to the nature of a buffet, there's a high risk of cross-contamination of foods. For example, if you're allergic to nuts of any kind, you might think you'd be safe heading for the salad bar. However, what you might not realize is that an unsuspecting diner has accidentally dropped a couple of pine nuts into the croutons. Exercise special caution when picking out food from a buffet; when in doubt, consider asking your food to be brought out directly from the kitchen.
DO Visit Restaurants During Non-Peak Hours
Depending on your specific food allergy, it may not be easy for restaurant staff to accommodate your requests. Doing so may require a large chunk of time and special preparation, so if you'd like to make things easier on yourself and the restaurant staff, try visiting during non-peak hours when it'll be easier for them to accommodate you. This will decrease the chances of an accidental cross-contamination. Another option is to call the restaurant ahead of time to make arrangements for your food allergy.
DON'T Make Assumptions About Chain Restaurants
Finally, understand that just because one restaurant in a chain does things one way, this doesn't mean another restaurant within the same chain will be the same. You should always check with staff about specific ingredients before dining. After all, even chain restaurants may have different suppliers and vendors; as such, a dish that doesn't contain ingredients that came into contact with peanuts in one restaurant may very well contain such ingredients in another. Don't take any chances!
Food allergies should never be taken lightly; if you have a food allergy, be sure to keep these tips in mind so you can protect yourself while enjoying a restaurant-prepared meal.
If you have any questions about the limitations and dangers of your food allergy, reach out to a member of a local clinic, like Alidina Laila MD.