A guide to eating out with food allergies

I miss Chinese food.

We rarely order Chinese any more, unless Benjamin isn’t eating with us. With his seafood and nut allergies, Chinese food is not a safe choice. Even if the rest of us get takeout and eat next to Benjamin at the dinner table, it makes him nervous. It’s just not worth the risk.

We tend to pick safe choices for dining out because of it. You just never know what’s in the food, and it’s hard to put your trust in the waiter who tells you that the sauce or the dish or whatever is nut or fish free.

I received a book in the mail that can help take some of the uncertainty out of it. “Let’s Eat Out with Celiac/Coeliac & Food Allergies” (R&R Publishing, $26.95) is a guide for people with food allergies when eating out, especially with ethnic food.

There’s a chapter in each book dedicated to different types of food: Mexican, Thai, Italian, Chinese, French, steak and seafood. Each chapter talks about the traditional ingredients in the food, gluten awareness issues, other allergy considerations and the likelihood of certain ingredients being in the food.

For example, Chinese food has a high likelihood of containing corn, gluten, soy and wheat; a moderate likelihood of having eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish and tree nuts; and a low likelihood of using dairy.

It also breaks down some of the common dishes for each ethnicity such as egg drop soup and talks about how it is prepared. It also discusses cross-contamination, which is a big concern with people who have food allergies. Sharing the same pan or utensil with a contaminant is enough to cause big problems.

All in all it’s a helpful guide to dining out with food allergies. It’s not the prettiest in design, but it is complete.

And it confirms my Chinese food concerns. But the book gives a better idea of the questions to ask, food to avoid and safe options.

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