So i’ve really only had one proper girlfriend and since we started dating, we’ve been out for a lot of meals. You have to. It’s just one of those things that comes with dating. Everything from breakfast to lunch to dinner and even the mystical brunch…! Having an allergy used to affect the decision to go out for meals much more than it does now. When we first used to go out, I used to get really nervous about my allergy and panic that I might embarrass myself or die in front of her! Since we’ve been dating for two years, we’ve gone out for tons of meals and learnt the rules of eating out with an allergy. These self-made rules help me to eat out safely and actually enjoy the meal rather than panic and think I’m going to die every time I take a bite!
- So this is without a doubt one my main rules. By repetition I mean, try and go to the same place if you know it’s safe. Although perhaps it may be a bit of a boring rule (like a few of the others), this will do you a favour. If you go to a restaurant and they cater to your allergy needs and they do it well and safely, there is NOTHING wrong with going to that place again! I do it all the time. It generally works best with chain-restaurants because they like to cover themselves to avoid lawsuits, which makes them more wary. It also can work with independent restaurants too, but there is a risk that they’ll be less safe. Just go wherever makes you feel comfortable.
- Stay clear of Ethnic Food
- This is again a bit of a boring rule and some of you will undoubtedly find it quite limiting, but avoiding ethnic foods , generally asian and middle eastern, could save your life. In particular, Chinese and Indian restaurants often use a LOT of nuts in their recipes and however clean and safe the restaurant may be, there is always the risk of cross-contamination when nuts are being used so much. I generally try to stick to Italian, American, French and British restaurants because they have a tendency to use less nuts in the kitchen. The added bonus of going to an American or British restaurant is also that the staff will generally have English as their first language which makes it easier to explain the severity of your condition to them. Ethnic restaurants tend to employ staff from the restaurant’s origin country and English is often their second language and not spoken as well. I try to stay clear of ethnic restaurants because they usually make me feel a lot less safe than being in a restaurant that I know and that speaks my language.
- Carry your Epipen
- This is kind of an obvious one, but if you ever go out to dinner or for a meal, just bring along your epipen because if there is an accident or cross-contamination, the end result will probably be a lot worse if you don’t bring it! This is a rule that I always stick by because I never feel as comfortable at a restaurant as I do when I have my epipen.
- Don’t get Drunk
- Right, now this is a bit of a quirky rule and one that, i’ll be honest, can be hard to stick to! Drinking a lot when going out for a meal will lower your inhibitions and generally make you less sensible. There is a greater risk of you having an accident when drunk than if not because you’re not always concentrating on what you’re ordering, eating and kissing off of someone’s lips! Just as a general rule of thumb, I try not to get drunk before having a meal because I like to be as conscious as possible when ordering and asking whether they can cater to my allergy.
- Don’t be Shy!
- This is a rule that took me a little while to get used to at first because when you’re going out for a meal with a date and don’t want to embarrass yourself, you tend to get a bit shy when asking about nuts in the food. This is a rule that might take a little while to get your head around, but it is just as essential as the others. Asking whether you food has nuts in it, or is susceptible to cross-contamination is something that you have to do if you have an allergy. It sucks, but you have to do it. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about because why would it be! It’s a condition that you can’t help. Sadly, it is just one of those things that you have to do and have to get used to.
- Try and skip Dessert
- Ok so the majority of times that I go out for a meal, I very rarely eat dessert. This isn’t because I don’t like dessert (don’t be mad!), it’s because puddings and dessert are very often the most likely foods in a restaurant to contain, or possibly contain nuts. This tends to be because generally desserts in restaurants are often not made by the chefs and are quite often bought from a supplier who likes to cover his back by sticking a great big ‘MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF NUTS’ sticker on that gorgeous piece of chocolate cake. It sucks, but I try not to eat dessert because I never quite feel safe if I do (and I’m cheap!)
Ok so these are MY rules. They’re open to your own adaption and interpretation if you’d like to use them. I use them because they make me feel safer and more confident when with a date. And remember, confidence is EVERYTHING!