Now that the height of the holiday season is upon us & the schools have broken up many people are either taking a holiday in the UK or abroad or planning more meals out than normal. Sunshine, warmth & an upbeat mood make this all the more likely. However, it is important to sound a firm note of caution when eating out especially if you are susceptible to allergies & food intolerance.
Here are a few tips for dining out if you suffer from allergies.
Do the research. Know exactly what you‚Äôre walking into so there are no surprises.
Choose simple items on the menu ‚Äì without sauces, no casseroles or crusted-over desserts ‚Äì unless you absolutely, positively know what‚Äôs in them.
Develop good relationships with a few local restaurants/chefs who know you, understand your allergies and sensitivities, and happily accommodate you. Frequent those places.
Always speak up about your food issues (firmly, pleasantly) so the chef, manager, and wait staff understand your dietary needs.
Don‚Äôt be afraid to ask questions.
And don‚Äôt be afraid to leave if you‚Äôre not comfortable.
When a restaurant treats you well, always say ‚Äúthank you‚Äù ‚Äì and then tell your friends.
It is worth noting the difference between food allergy & food intolerance or insensitivity. A food insensitivity leads to gas, stomach pains & a feeling of indigestion & possibly an upset stomach. A food allergy invokes an immune system reaction brought on for instance by specific ingredients such as peanuts or shellfish. At worst the allergic food in question can lead to anaphylactic shock which causes a sudden drop in blood pressure from eating only a minute amount of the allergic foods .A bad reaction to shellfish can become more aggravated the next time you eat something in this food category. Always carry your allergy medications with you since even in the most careful restaurants mistakes can occur. Make sure they are in date.
In the past 12 months there have been new regulations come into force. Under new EU regulations establishments must be well prepared to cater for the allergic diner. The Royal College of Public Health commissioned a study of takeaway businesses in the UK & found very alarming results. Food allergies are on the rise & have doubled in the last 10 years whilst hospital admissions have risen 7 fold. The report is especially worrying for those that have multiple life threatening allergies.
In conclusion, the above advice & comments make for depressing reading for allergy & food intolerance sufferers who just want to enjoy a meal out during the summer holidays. With just a little advance planning & sensible precautions at your choice of eating establishment one can still enjoy a safe tasty meal that is unlikely to be overly expensive.