If you have any food allergies/intolerances you would be familiar with the challenges that can come with eating out. Scanning the menu looking for something that sounds nice but is also safe for you to eat. Often the choices are very limited and you end up spending some time talking to the waiter about options and possible alternative ways of making a dish – only to end up with a disappointing meal that is inedible due to taste or presence of allergic foods.

Last week I went to a Penrith Chamber dinner at the Glenbrook RAAF base, I had given advance warning of my allergies I was pleasantly surprised. They provided a three course meal which was completely allergy free for me which was tasty, filling and even included a dessert. Yes they even made a cake for me which was gluten free, dairy free, almond free, olive oil free and cocoa free – and it was lovely! This is so rare, usually I just watch everyone else eat dessert.

It is important to remember that restaurant staff don’t always understand food groups and allergies. The next day I was at a local cafe for a breakfast meeting. I was running late so instead of saying can I please have omelette with spinach, spanish onion and tomato. No cheese, milk or cream and no bread. I quickly listed what I wanted included in the omelette and said no bread or dairy. Five minutes later a concerned waiter came in to my meeting to chat with me about my choice in breakfast and explained that is was not possible to do a dairy free omelette because omelettes contain eggs!

After explaining to him as patiently as I could that eggs come from chooks not cows; he then went on to explain that they had to use milk, would skim be OK. Starting to lose my patience by now I explained that I was allergic to whey and that it is in all milk. Just make the eggs without milk, they won’t be as fluffy but they will be fine, do you need me to show the chef how to do it? He walked out still looking confused and unsure but ultimately the chef figured it out and my eggs arrived allergy free!

In my case, this is just mildly amusing because my allergic reactions are quite mild, unlike some of my clients who have quite severe and debilitating reactions. Of course this can be deadly for people of suffer from acute anaphylaxis.

Moral to the story is to always spell it out as plainly as possible to wait staff, don’t assume basic knowledge of food groups and allergies.

What have your experiences been good and bad? Any tips for other allergy sufferers about ordering to avoid allergies?