5 Tips For Eating Out (food allergy edition)

1. Research. Look for restaurants in your area that market real food. We know at least 4 places off the top of our heads that we can leave from without a belly ache. Find places that work for you. This will keep you from getting sick and support businesses that are doing it right. “Farm to table” is pretty trendy at the moment and as rebellious as I am, these are the kind of places we want to keep around. By supporting local businesses, you are helping them help you. Everyone wins.

2. Know thyself. A simple Greek proverb that proves to be true time and time again. But seriously, tune into your body. If you don’t feel great after eating corn, don’t order corn. If you don’t love how you feel (or look in some cases) after eating tomatoes, put your foot down and don’t eat tomatoes. Work with your body not against it. In turn, your body will thank you. For some that’s regular bowel movements or clear skin. For others it’s a good night’s sleep. Learn what helps your body and what hurts your body. Exercise self control.

3. Ask questions. Ask your waiter if you have any concerns. Such as, “Do you know if the steak is marinated before being cooked?” Or, “Can I ask you if you know whether or not the marinara is dairy free?” Don’t be a jerk. If the waiter doesn’t know, give them a break and pick something else. There is no reason to ruin their night. Have you ever served tables? It’s not super fun. FYI, almost all chain restaurants have allergy guides. Some have them on hand, some have them online. Ask your hostess or grab your iphone and start Googling.

4. If you’re stuck going to Apple Bee’s rather than your favorite farm fresh bistro (like I was last week), stick to the basics. What does this mean? Well, stick to real food. Chances are the chicken fingers and onion rings probably aren’t safe. Neither are they real food. I do best when I order a hunk of meat (I just try and find a chicken breast or small steak or burger with no bun) and a side of veggies or salad with no dressing. Boring? Yes, but I’d rather be bored than sick. I can eat “fun” food when I am positive it’s safe.

5. Be prepared. Let’s say you’re taking a day trip to Santa Monica. You did some research and found a place for dinner and yet, life doesn’t always go as planned. Traffic backs up unexpectedly. You’re stuck for hours listening to Green Day.Dinner time is creeping up. You’re starving, you can feel your blood sugar dropping and all that’s in the car is a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos. But wait! You snuck a bag of almonds into your purse/backpack/glove box along with an apple. Brilliant! Moral of the story: You never know what’s going to happen and being hungry never helps.

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