Alicia Woodward: Hi! I am Alicia Woodward, editor of 'Living Without,' the world's leading magazine for people with food allergies and sensitivities.
Today, I would like to talk about eating out safely on your special diet. Get the most out of your dining experience by planning ahead. Use the internet to check out restaurant websites and menus. Many smartphone apps help dinners with food sensitivities. You can also download allergy cards on your smartphone to use at restaurants.
Call before, even if a website indicates a restaurant that's gluten free or allergy friendly, things can change. Call during non-peak hours to verify that they can accommodate you. Look for gluten free menus. Most establishments that cater to gluten-free diners are also sensitive to customers with food allergies. So your chances for accommodation are better.
Carry a card. Bring a dining card that describes your special dietary needs to let the staff know your condition is serious. This is especially important if there is a language difference. Keep it simple.
Unless you know for certain what you are getting, stick to simple dishes with a shortlist of ingredients. Limit the chance of hidden allergens, no sauces or gravies, toppings, casseroles, creamy desserts or baked goods.
Carry provisions. Don't get stuck hungry. Carry nutritious bars or other healthy snacks with you just in case.
Order last. If you are dining with a group, let others order first. That way you won't worry that you're keeping people waiting and it allows you to speak to the waiter more privately.
Carry your meds. If you are at risk for anaphylaxes, make sure your emergency meds are up-to-date. It's recommended that you carry two epinephrine autoinjectors, not one, at all times and wear a medic alert bracelet.
If you aren't comfortable at a restaurant, leave. Never eat at an establishment unless you feel they understand your needs. If you are not convinced, don't hesitate to take your business elsewhere.
Use these tips to take control of your dining experience. With a little advanced planning, you will be able to enjoy your meal without worry.