Dining out is one of the best parts about travelling, even if you're a picky eater like me. I have a few food allergies and dietary restrictions, but I am more than capable of handling my own meal. Let's talk about how to stay safe and healthy while eating out so that you can enjoy your next trip to that restaurant with friends or family without worrying about getting sick.
Before you dine out, do your research.
At the very least, do a bit of homework and research the restaurant that you plan to go to before you arrive. It’s always best to check a restaurant’s website for information about their menu and any dietary restrictions they may have in place. (If there are no menus online, do not go!)
If you are still unsure about what is available on their menu after this initial research, it's okay if you want to ask them directly if they can accommodate your dietary needs or restrictions when making reservations or checking in at the host desk upon arrival. The worst that could happen is that they say no; at least then you'll know where things stand! And if they say yes? Even better! But even if they say no, there's nothing wrong with asking questions until someone knows what ingredients make up each dish in order for them (or someone else) to help guide us through our options while dining out.
Ask questions. Lots of them and don't be afraid to repeat yourself.
It's not enough to just ask, "Are there peanuts in this?" You have to ask how the food is prepared, what ingredients are in it and if there are any allergens in it. Is the kitchen shared? Are they cooking your chicken and someone else's fish at the same time? If so, you might be getting some cross-contamination.
The server should also be able to tell you if they know any other customers with allergies or dietary restrictions who have eaten at their restaurant before. This is important because they'll know if they've had an issue with a particular allergy before—and more importantly—they'll know how to handle the situation if one arises again (i.e., do not wait until after someone has started eating something potentially dangerous).
Make an informed decision that puts your health first.
There are several ways to make an informed decision that puts your health first.
First, you should always ask questions. You never know what's in a dish or why something is cooked a certain way, so it's important to make sure you understand how your food was prepared. If the chef doesn't know what's in a dish and can't tell you, then there must be something he/she is trying to hide from the customer. That lack of transparency means that the restaurant does not care about serving quality food or providing safe meals for its customers.
When this happens at our house (which is often), we don’t finish our meal and walk out after being lied to by the chef/waitstaff. We would rather pay more money somewhere else where they will respect us as patrons than eat at an establishment where we have no control over what goes into our bodies because they refuse to provide us with information on their menu items.
Do not be shy about asking questions when you are eating out and handling food allergies
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Don't be afraid to repeat yourself.
Don't be afraid to say no.
If you have a food allergy or dietary restriction, don't let it stop you from enjoying the experience of dining out with your friends and family. You can still go out for dinner, but there are some things worth noting before you sit down at the table.
As you can see, there are many steps that you can take to ensure that you have an enjoyable and safe dining experience. By being prepared and asking questions, you will be able to navigate any situation with confidence.