Food allergies can be tough, especially when you are first figuring them out and navigating through it all. I wanted to create a resource, I wish I had three years ago, to help others going through the same thing. This one is all about eating out at restaurants…something I think is the most challenging and even at times scary. So here is my back story, advice, and tips, that will hopefully make eating out easier. Also note, I’m not a doctor of any kind, this is just my journey and what has worked for me and my family.

Food Intolerances/Allergies in Babies

We welcomed our first baby, Jaxon, in September of 2015. We were thrilled with his arrival, but soon realized he was super fussy, gassy, uncomfortable all the time, not sleeping, etc. We were told “he’s just a baby”, “he’s colic”, and many other excuses. This is when the mom’s intuition kicks in, and you know something else is wrong, and keep meeting with the pediatrician. Ours suggested testing his stool for blood, and sure enough it came back positive. This led her to believe Jaxon had a food intolerance, and dairy/soy are typically the most common, so that is where we started. He was put on formula for two weeks, while I cut all dairy and soy out of my diet. (It takes about two weeks to get out of your system, so putting him on the formula allowed him to rid his body of the dairy and soy over those two weeks as well.)

I then started nursing him again, and wow, it was like we had a new baby! The fussiness was almost completely gone. He was able to sleep longer stretches, as he was no longer waking up with stomach cramping. His reflux and spitting up decreased. We were all getting rest and doing so much better, it just took 3 months to figure it all out. I didn’t want to slip up or jeopardize this “new baby”, so I avoided eating out at all costs…at first. Its scary not to be in control of exactly what is going into your body, especially when it can have such a negative effect on your baby.

Fast forward to this November, 2018 and we are going through the same food intolerance issues with our baby girl, Kollyns. I’ve also had to eliminate egg on top of dairy and soy. This time around it was so much easier to figure out, and by 5 weeks old I had completely eliminated everything and she is doing great! And I’m not as nervous to eat out. I have a lot more options, and have learned so much, and this is why I wanted to share my experience and tips with you. Also, if you feel like your baby might have a food intolerance or even a severe allergy, speak to their pediatrician and they can help you come up with a plan. (side note: we had Jaxon tested for food allergies with an allergist when he turned one. He outgrew the soy intolerance but is allergic to dairy and egg. He now can actually tolerate dairy and egg baked into foods, but we still try to avoid when eating out.)

Restaurant Allergen Menus

Below are allergen menus that you an easily access. These are great resources wether you have a peanut allergy, or need items that are gluten free, etc. You can reference these before eating out to see exactly what you can order, and be safe. Because lets be honest, in my situation, I nursed Jaxon for 14 months, I couldn’t realistically eat at home, every meal, for over a year..or at least I didn’t want to.

Chik-Fil-A

Chipotle

Wendy’s (just click on items and it lists all ingredients & flags 12 allergies)

McDonalds (just type in a menu item, and allergies are highlighted)

City BBQ

Noodles & Co

McAlister’s Deli (select your allergies and items you CAN eat pop up)

Subway

Qdoba (a reason to read these, their grilled chicken contains dairy!)

Culver’s

Olive Garden

These larger, chain restaurants tend to be easier to access their allergens and ingredients used. It’s the local restaurants that can be trickier to navigate, so here are some tips I have.

Tips for Dining Out

  1. Call the restaurant ahead of time. Choose off hours, and ask to speak to a manager. Let them know your food allergies and ask if they can accommodate you.
  2. Pull up the menu before you go, and get some ideas on what you might be able to eat. When you arrive ask your server to check on your options with the chef to make sure they work for you and don’t contain ingredients you are avoiding. (The chef might also have ideas on certain substitutions for you.)
  3. Ask your server what oil the restaurant uses to fry foods. (If you have a peanut or soy allergy, this is really important as a lot of restaurants use peanut oil and to cut costs, soybean oil.)
  4. Also, ask if they fry everything in the same oil. For example, I have a dairy allergy, but think, hey I can have french fries, no dairy there. BUT if they are frying foods with dairy in the same oil as the fries, that is something that wouldn’t work. If they have a separate fryer for the fries, etc than you would be okay.
  5. You can feel out your server, but I normally always ask to speak to a manager about my food allergies and options. Make sure they can confidently and intelligently answer your questions. For example, I say can I order the burger? Is it dairy free and egg free? And they respond with yeah probably if we take the cheese off. Welllll what about the bun, does that contain dairy or egg? Are the fries fried in a fryer along with other foods that contain dairy or egg? Asking them to completely check with the chef or talking to a manager usually eliminates these issues.
  6. Bring some of your own foods. When avoiding soy it is so hard to find salad dressings that don’t contain it. So a lot of times I would order a salad with grilled chicken and just pack my own dressing to use.
  7. Keep it simple. Avoid items in sauces and desserts. Sometimes a grilled chicken breast or piece of fish and steamed veggies or fruit are the safest items to order.
  8. Be prepared to treat yourself incase of a mistake. Bring an epipen, benadryl, etc.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I just wanted share some restaurants here in the Indy area that have been so accommodating to me and Jaxon, and a few that were not so great!

The Good:

  • Harry & Izzy’s – they are amazing…the chef came to our table with a little card and noted everything!
  • Patachou
  • Yats
  • Ruth’s Chris
  • Pure Eatery

The Bad:

  • Four Day Ray
  • Houlihans
  • El Rodeo
  • Panera

I hope you have found this useful. If you have any specific questions on food allergies or eating out, just shoot me a message, as I would be happy to help!

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