Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dining In v Dining Out with Severe Food Allergies to Egg & Dairy

I grew up having to say, "no, I can't have that because I am allergic, but thank you for offering" more times than I can count. When I turned 16 I learned that friends and boyfriends wanted to go out to eat to socialize. That was a frightening thing for me to realize. Benadryl and epi pens were always stashed away in my purse, strapped to my being every time.

Now I'm 30 and it's still hard. My friends and family are very aware of my food allergies and for the most part they go out of their way to think of me when planning parties and dinner outings. None of my friends have food allergies so they end up accommodating me when we meet for lunch or dinner. Sweet for me, but limited for them. There are about 5 places in Orlando that I trust to serve me.

What I mean by "trust" is that when I go to a place I look at their whole menu and take into account the size of their kitchen and how easily it would be to cross contaminate my food with something that could cause me to have an allergic reaction. If half the menu is made up of omelets and eggs galore, then I will have to keep moving along. I have come to find out that there is only so much a kitchen staff can do to make sure my food will be safe for me to eat.

Over the years however, I have grown to love dining out and being with friends and family over dinner and drinks. I love it. There is not much else in the world that can compare to a lovely table, white linens, glasses half filled, forks and knives scattered on plates, surrounded by the people I love to talk with and laugh with.

Except for me, no matter what, even if I have been to a restaurant 100 times, there is still part of me that is on guard, nervous, after every bite wondering if it's just the pepper that's making my throat tickle and itch a bit or is it an allergic reaction? And because my reaction can happen fast and be so severe, the slightest change in feeling can cause me to put my fork down, drink a few sips of water, look around at my friends and smile, hoping they don't notice the change in me. Then I take a brief step out of the conversation to check in with my body; asking all the questions. After I realize there are no other symptoms I reassure myself that I'm okay and that it's just pepper. I don't want my friends and family to recognize I'm doing this, because the fact that we're at this particular restaurant in the first place is because of my food allergies. The last thing I want to do is bring more focus to these darn food allergies.

But since it's a life or death thing, I usually look at someone if I'm in question and ask, "Can you take a look at my throat?" It's truly so embarrassing, but the people who are around me love me.

So, even though I absolutely love dining out, I prefer to dine in over a fabulous meal I have prepared by my own hands. I know I have read every label and I know every thing that is in my kitchen. When I take a bite into something scrumptious, I'm not worried about the tickle I feel in the back of my throat, I know it's the pepper.

Nicolle Avery

No comments:

Post a Comment