To eat out with food allergies can be stressful, especially when you are a food lover! Oh, the emotional journey this can cause!
I love restaurants, and sometimes I am all game for eating out. Other times it invokes a paralysing fear. On this blog, I try to promote all the positives of eating out, but reality is often speckled. A common occurrence in deciding to eat out looks like this: I say yes let’s do it, and then as we approach the restaurant I panic out of it.
When I find it ok to eat out and when I decide it isn’t, has no apparent logic. I chalk it up to mostly gut feeling and my mental state.
Not only my emotions are involved
I’m not the only one impacted by this. I don’t make it easy on my husband who loves eating out as much as I do, so when I hint at it and then renege it is equally hard on him.
When I do back out of eating, I will insist my husband eats without me. I am happy to order water because, at that point in my emotional journey of deciding not to eat, I have convinced myself nothing but water is safe out of the house. This isn’t fair on him since he thought we were going to have a nice meal together.
Not only do I feel stressed about the whole ordeal, but I have also put my husband through it, and this is not something I wish to do (more on that in on a later date).
The emotional rollercoaster of eating out has many layers. I wish there were a definite answer as to when and why I feel confident in eating out and when and why I would sooner curl up in a ball with some lettuce.
Understanding this emotional journey
Last week we went out for Indian food, which is not easy for me to feel confident about – you can read more in the post I wrote about it on balancing being polite and staying safe. I have been asking myself what was it that made me say yes to eating Indian food.
The answer, my mental state of mind. I was feeling relaxed, confident, and ready to advocate for myself at the restaurant. It was a perfect combo of positivity.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out, however when it does I am always super happy we did go out to eat. Living with food allergies is definitely loaded, but go with your gut, surround yourself with people who care and are flexible, and who are ok when you change your mind. Dining out when something doesn’t feel right is not fun, and isn’t the point of eating out to enjoy?
I do eat out one or two times a week and the emotional journey comes in waves. Most of the time it is smooth sailing, thus I have fine-tuned how I prefer to manage my allergies at restaurants. If you want a full list of things, I do when dining out check out my 8 tips for eating out with food allergies.
So how did I go about ordering at the Indian restaurant?
We have one ‘go-to’ place that I have vetted like a madwoman. I mean they took me into their storage and showed me all their ingredients. So I know what they use and approve. Yes, they have allergens on the menu.
What I do is choose a dish that is prepared fresh, which ensures a new pan and utensils. Unlike a curry that has been cooking for a while and has higher chances of cross-contact. I also like to go at non-peak hours as the kitchen is not as busy and can take care of my meal.
Even though I have vetted them, I will always show my allergy card and talk about my allergies. Never would I ever eat anywhere without this step.
Like I said before, even though I have eaten there multiple times, sometimes my gut feeling is ‘DON’T DO IT’, and I will always listen to that wise ‘ol guy 🙂
Kortney is your typical atopic triad who manages asthma, eczema and multiple food allergies. Kortney is a co-creator of the online community Allergy Travels and co-host of The Itch Podcast. She wants to spread joy in a community that can easily see the hard side of life with atopic disease and believes that you can have a full life with food allergies, it may just be lived a little differently!