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Dining Out With Food Allergies

ask your server questions about the menu to keep you safe with food allergies

If you love to experience new restaurants but your allergies make it difficult for you to try new things, planning ahead is always important. Read on for some tips for a more enjoyable dining experience.

Before You Go Do your research ahead of time to understand your allergies and conditions. See your allergist to discuss in detail what you can and cannot eat. If you have medication, such as an epinephrine pen that was prescribed to you, be sure to bring it in case of an emergency. Many restaurants are familiar with a chef or food allergy card that explains your allergies in detail. This will reduce any confusion in the kitchen. Allergy cards can be found on sites such as, and via the SafeFARE program.

Selecting a Restaurant Call around and check menus online when considering restaurants. Use phone apps or websites such as that offer a peer-reviewed directory of restaurants that focus on allergy friendliness. Choose chain restaurants as they tend to use the same ingredients for each of their recipes and prepare them the same way. Chain restaurants are usually aware of allergies and make note of allergens on their menus. When considering a restaurant, think about the type of environment it offers. It may be wise to avoid the following restaurant environments to prevent any flare ups that can happen.

  • Buffets offer a wide variety of food very close to each other, which makes the potential for cross-contamination very high.

  • Pre-made foods served at restaurants are not made from scratch, which will make it difficult to ask for the problem ingredient to be removed.

  • Bakeries tend to use the top eight allergens in their recipes such as eggs, wheat, peanuts, milk, soybean, fish, nuts and shellfish. Cross-contamination is very high, especially since most bakeries do not individually package their products.

At the Restaurant Ask to speak to the manager and remind them of your allergies since you’ve already spoken to them on the phone. Give them your allergy card and ask if they could give it to the chef. Ask questions about whether the kitchen staff changes gloves in between tasks and what type of shared equipment they use. When you have been seated, relay your allergy requirements to your server to ensure everyone is on board and aware of what you cannot eat. Ask your server about menu items that do not contain the problematic ingredients. At the end of your meal, tip the wait staff well and give them a good review online or send a thank you email to the staff for taking extra precautions with your meal.

Written by: Michelle Tran, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern. Learn more about the Wellness Workdays Dietetic Internship.


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