Since Sloan's diagnosis with a severe corn allergy - I have found it most convenient to make almost everything. But I get tired of cooking 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. So we consider eating out - but that is easier said than done. Almost every restaurant has a specialty menu for people with allergies to the Top 8. Unfortunately corn allergy is not in the top 8. So we CAPs (Corn Allergy Parents) do what we do best - research and innovate.
Denny's and Culver's both include corn, on their allergy awareness menus; they, as far as I know, are the only two. When dining out at a restaurant with a food allergy not listed in the top 8, there are some steps you can take to ensure a safe trip to dine out.
- Plan ahead. Give yourself a couple days if you can.
- Have a plan B. There are some restaurants, believe it or not, that are not at all cooperative to people with food allergies. It's too dangerous to take a chance, so it is worth it to tell the restaurant, "I'm sorry but we will be dining somewhere else until you are able to accommodate people with food allergies".
- Call ahead. Try to call at times when the restaurant is not experiencing a rush. I typically try to call at either 11 or 2.
- Ask for the kitchen manager or the general manager.
- Have a pad of paper and pen handy - TAKE NOTES! Note the name of the person to whom you spoke, their recommendations and other pertinent information.
- This conversation can be lengthy so make yourself comfortable.
- Explain your situation - most managers are VERY helpful. Ask a lot of questions, and be very friendly - remember that you catch a lot more flies with honey!
- If they simply do not have anything that you or your child can eat, ask if you can bring in a meal.
- Stick with what you know. We have maybe 10 places where we know exactly what Sissy can eat; they range pizza joints to a place to get a nice steak dinner. We go primarily to those places to dine.
- If you find something your kiddo can eat - WRITE IT DOWN! I keep a binder in the car that contains a list of the restaurants that can accommodate Sissy and exactly what to order. That way, if Big Poppa and I have the kids out, we can stop somewhere to eat without going home and researching.
- When you get to the restaurant ask to speak to the manager to whom you spoke on the phone. Tell him who you are - it's good for restaurant management to know when people with food allergies are in their restaurant. They are going to make sure you are well taken care of. They don't want someone going into anaphylaxis in their dining room.
- Remember to check drinks! Sissy typically sticks with milk or water.
Most of all, remember to have fun! Eating out can be a difficult task - so enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Have you been to a restaurant that was very helpful? Tell us! Share your stories with the rest of us!