What’s For Dinner with Food Allergies?

May 28th, 2010

This can be an overwhelming question when you’re dealing with multiple food allergies and a hungry family with growing children. I found it especially frightening when there’s no option for take-out or dining out that can accommodate food allergies.
Twenty-two years ago, when our sons were first diagnosed with food allergies, I decided to come up with a weekly meal schedule, so that everyone in the household knew that if it was Monday, they would be seeing tofu lasagna or tofu pizza with homemade crust on the dinner table that night. If were Tuesday, it would be steak or hamburgers. You get the idea.
I did this because I keep a very busy schedule, am a fish out of water in the kitchen, and confused and dazed in the grocery store when shopping for items that would be safe for all of our food allergies.

Smitten by My Food Allergy Chef Card

May 19th, 2010

Oh, how I am smitten by the power of the food allergy chef card. This was our first trip to a foreign speaking country with our son and his food allergies, and believe me when I say I am very thankful that I took the time to prepare a detailed custom German food allergy chef card to be used in the Munich restaurants and surrounding towns. There were times when the waiters and waitresses spoke strong English, but there were also meals where they did not. In all cases, with some interaction between server and patron, and that small piece of paper with black, red and green ink, the food allergy message was effectively delivered to the chef. And I worried less whether or not the chef spoke English, because the paper with the food allergy message was delivered right along with the meal order slip. Each meal, it was delivered back to the table along with the plate of food, stained and crunched, looking quite used, making me quite happy. One time it was actually sitting on the plate in the food, but I didn’t mind because I know it had been in the kitchen to deliver the food allergy message.

Personally, on this trip the food allergy chef card provided an elegant yet powerful weapon in the arsenal of my most important food allergic diner. It delivered the food allergy message privately, loud, and clear. It minimized the stressful public banter between patron and server while improving the clarity of the food allergy message that actually reached the chef. Of course, we all know there is an inherent risk when dining out with food allergies, but why not use all of the weapons within our power to create a balance between keeping safe and leaving home? Will the food allergy chef card provide good results in the next restaurant? I don’t know yet. Will the food allergy chef card be as effective in other cities or other countries? I don’t know yet. Are all food allergy chef cards created equal? I don’t know that either. Will the food allergy chef card work for you? I can’t predict that.

Please keep in mind that I contacted the manager of each of these restaurants prior to dining there to see if they felt the restaurant was capable of handling my son’s food allergies. And they responded that they could handle the food allergies and that we needed to let our server know about the food allergies before placing the order. Also, the servers in these restaurants were NOT young inexperienced waiters and waitresses.

Click here to see the food allergy chef card I designed for my son to use in Germany. It’s English equivalent is also included. You are welcome to use the design for personal use only. This design is the property of Food Allergies To Go, LLC and is protected by the Terms snd Conditions at FoodAllergiesToGo.com. Please understand that you are agreeing that Food Allergies To Go is not responsible for the outcome of your use of this food allergy information.
I put many hours into this design after studying German, using www.translate.google.com, and the translate option within Microsoft Word. I printed the food allergy chef cards on paper, four per page, then cut them to fit in my son’s wallet. I considered laminating one to be reused but he preferred a disposable food allergy chef card in case it picked up any cross-contamination en route.

There are places online where you can buy food allergy chef cards, but I’m not sure what they look like since I have never seen one. Of course, I can’t know how effective they are. Please tell us your food allergy chef card experiences and let other readers know where you got your food allergy chef card.