Monday, May 7, 2012

Traversing the Restaurant Scene with Food Allergies

I want my kids to see the world before they're too cool to hold my hand. I want them to run their fingers along the weather-pocked stone of the Mayan temples I keep telling them about. I want them to know the sharp sting of black sand on the soles of their feet and the cool melt of ahi on their tongues. They should be sticking their noses into steaming pots of dal in India and sampling nshima in Zambia where their father was born. Our passports are up to date. I even bought a new bathing suit but sadly we won't be boarding an Airbus any time soon. Damn you, food allergies. I want to go on vacation!

OK, so we're not quite ready to tackle international travel yet, but as I mentioned in a previous post, we're inching toward mobility. Over the course of the past four years of dealing with Roo's allergies (now down to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, beef, and peach) we're starting to get the hang of this eating on the road gig.

First things first. When we go to a restaurant we always have Roo's epi-pens and Benadryl. Always.

We call ahead whenever possible to get a rundown of how the restaurant handles allergies, what food items are safe, and what type of oil they use to fry stuff. We do not call to ask these questions at 7:00 pm on a Saturday night.

Once we get our menus, we ask all of the allergy questions again and compare answers. Often they are not the same as those received on the phone.

We keep an emergency snack bag in the car with a few small items in case we can't find something safe and need to buy ourselves some time. This bag contains fruit snacks, pretzels, and Dum Dum lollipops at a minimum. Bananas and turkey roll-ups do not keep well in the car. 

When someone, say a busy waitress, takes time to find out once and for all if there is egg in the fusilli pasta and returns with the label torn from a box, we do not let this act go unrequited. We are chronic over tippers. This is not a bad thing.

And we're learning to relax.

Eating out with food allergies is a risk but so is everything else worth doing. Every time Roo works his way across the monkey bars I worry that the kid before him had peanut butter on his fingers. Every time Looly goes on a play date I worry that there's an unsecured firearm in the house. Every time Bean opens our back gate on a stormy day I worry a gust of wind is going to smack the iron handle into her teeth. But somehow the monkey bars get crossed, the play date gets played, and the gate gets secured once more.

I guess that's what we do. I can't protect them from everything. For Roo, eating buttered noodles and broccoli from a kids menu is just one of those things.


  1. Ugh, that's hard. My father is severely lactose intolerant, and just that used to be hard when going out to restaurants (we have now found a medicine he can take that helps so much!). I have ulcerative colitis, and traveling becomes hard when you don't know what food is going to set my UC off. And that's not even close to what you have to deal with! I hope you are able to figure out the traveling thing sometime soon =)

  2. Sheesh. UC is tough. It seems like we all have a cross to bear somewhere along the way when it comes to eating these days, doesn't it? I'm so grateful to the restaurants that are taking steps to deal with all of us.

  3. stumbled onto your blog via the blog hop and just wanted to leave you a little blog luv! Def enjoyed this post!! New Follower via email :-)