Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dining Out With Food Allergies

Posted by Heather at Thursday, June 14, 2012
As most of you know, Katy is allergic to eggs, nuts and soy. We've known about these food allergies for well over a year, now and we've learned a couple of trick along the way. At first it was hard, but now it's pretty much second nature. We, as a family tend to eat better because of the allergies and our awareness of exactly what ingredients go into the food we fuel our bodies with.

However, dining out with Katy is always a problem. What- if anything?- on the menu can Katy safely eat without breaking out into hives? This usually leads into a discussion with the wait staff, perhaps a manager, and some sort of group consultation. You can't just ASSUME something doesn't contain any of the offending allergens. You'd be amazed what foods out there contain soy (Seriously, read a couple of labels in your pantry- you'll be shocked!!)!!

Tonight on a whim, we went to Olive Garden for dinner. It was a spur-of-the moment decision. I'm going to pick on Olive Garden for a moment. First of all, our service was mediocre, at best. Then, when I presented the question about allergies, our waitress was uninformed, uncaring and completely uneducated about food allergies and the potential dangers that lurked ahead. After several SLOW exchanges between us, the waitress and the cooks, a manager FINALLY came out to talk to us. The manager was cordial, but equally uneducated and uninformed about food allergies and the ingredients that go into the food that the Olive Garden serves. A good 40 minutes after we were seated (remember, we're dining out with a toddler), we FINALLY received a computer print-out of Olive Garden allergens/ingredients. It was really slim pickings for our egg/nut/soy allergic Lil' Miss, but we finally settled on a side of sausage (I had brought along yogurt, raisins, veggie sticks and applesauce in her bag) but she devoured it! Lesson learned- do your research before going out to eat. Insist to see a manager about food allergies. Persist if you don't first get the service you need. And, as any good girl scout knows- come prepared with reinforcements (just in case)!!! For those of you who care, or are just curious, here is the Olive Garden allergen information from their website:

On the flip side, we've dined out at places before with impeccable service and attention to the needs of those with food allergies. Huge kudos to Walt Disney World (they really, truly take food allergies to heart and go the extra mile to accommodate)! Katy has eaten at the Magic Kingdom twice with no problems and wonderfully educated, caring and informed wait-staff. Also, Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt is very up-front about ingredients and potential allergens- they have signs posted with easy-to-read ingredient lists. Quaker Steak and Lube is another place where we saw the manager/cook come out and discuss food allergies with a customer.


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