Vacations and Dining Out With Allergies

By Heather Legg

We just returned from a few days away and, as usual, spent a lot of our time exploring which in turn means dining out for us. We did stay with some friends so we knew there would be no allergy instances (or at least felt pretty sure there wouldn’t be), but whenever you dine out and you have allergies, you wonder.

We did eat at a small locally owned restaurant where they did have to check on some things as we saw a few almonds and walnuts. We stayed clear of those things and had a good meal with no reactions. They were very accommodating and were happy to check and do what they could to help us out. I was a little surprised, though, to see along with the peanuts on the plane, tree nuts on the menu, including pecans served with a fruit plate.

I did come across a website that you can check for allergy safe restaurants wherever you go, and that is http://www.allerdine.com/.

AllerDine.com is the premier food allergy restaurant guide that describes the allergy friendliness of each restaurant. Information such as having a formal allergy policy, what allergens are on their menu, a list or book of ingredients, willingness to prepare a custom meal and kitchen layout, are available for each restaurant on the website to help you decide if it is an appropriate location for you and your family. Gluten, Peanuts, nuts, dairy and all other allergens are asked of each restaurant and their suppliers. Anaphylaxis and food allergies are not something to be taken lightly. We emphasize this with each restaurant. Dining out in your own town or while on vacation is now possible for anyone with food allergies. Search by key word, allergen, restaurant name or city.

Though their mission is good, I was a little disappointed to see so many chains. Half the fun of traveling and eating out is trying new, local places. It would be nice to see more of the smaller, innovative restaurants listed. Many of the chains have good websites where you can check it out yourself (which is a good idea if trying it for the first time). So this could be a good tool to add to your traveling repertoire, but, try not to let it limit you. You can always check with the manager/owner/server when dining out, and a phone call ahead is a good idea, too. Keep your checklist handy, and ask those important questions (how is the food prepared, what allergens are in your kitchen…). Use the tools you can find and be smart. Maybe the chains are some good standbys, but there are many good safe restaurants out there, too.

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