Little Details When Dining Out and Eating at Home with Food Allergies

 Sometimes, eating out with food allergies is like navigating an obstacle course.  You need to try and stay on track and watch out for the traps and pitfalls that await you.  Sometimes, when you think you’re track, you wind up going off course.  While I’m starting to get a little more knowledgeable about my dietary limitations over these past few months, I sometimes forget the most minute details about food prep which, if I’m not paying close attention, could possibly get me sick if the equipment is cross contaminated with wheat/gluten or dairy product.  I’m usually pretty good at remembering things; most of the time I’m asked to remember a certain reason for why something was done or a specific date.  When I go out, I need to remember to make sure the food prep people are wearing clean gloves, that the equipment used to make my meal is wiped down and sanitized, separate utensils are used, etc.

An example of this is when I go to MOD Pizza in Warrington, PA.  It’s such a treat to watch them make my pizza and let them know it’s supposed to be Gluten Free crust and the vegan cheese.  They also make it a point to wear fresh gloves.  However, and this is a gaffe on my part, they use the same ladle they use for the other pizzas.  I should have paid attention a few times prior, but I finally noticed and requested a separate tub of sauce and a fresh ladle.  I will say that they’re really good about it, which is a relief.  The staff at the Wawa near where I live are also pretty good about making sure that the equipment is wiped down and that they use a clean cup and spoon.  The people who are used to making my drink, which is usually a vanilla chai latte made with almond milk, know what to do in regards to wiping down the equipment and everything else.  I still make sure that whoever is making my drink needs to take those steps to make sure everything is cleaned off and clean equipment is used, especially if they aren’t used to my dietary needs or used to me.  I am aware that the equipment and prep spaces are shared and cross contamination is likely; I’m just trying to make sure that I don’t get sick.  Any reasonable person would definitely understand.

There is a risk of cross contamination

Another thing I need to be mindful of is the shared equipment and spaces at home.  There is a risk of cross contamination since my mother still eats products that contain gluten and dairy.  For the small baking pans that go into the counter top oven, I just stick a sheet of tin foil on there that not only gives me a clean working space, it also facilitates for easy clean up.  I think the main thing was the toaster.  We have a four-slice toaster which Mom uses to make her toast and even with the knowledge that I was probably cross contaminating my food, I still used it.  Eventually, I got my own dedicated two slice toaster for my Gluten Free stuff and all was well.  We also got fresh baking pans and muffin tins exclusively for my use for any Gluten Free baking that I will be doing.  I know it seems like overkill, but as Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  I was also thinking of separate dishes and utensils; that does seem a bit extreme and a bit expensive though.

Remembering the small details when it comes to allergies may seem to be tedious at times, it’s important.  It’s all about trying to stay healthy and not getting yourself sick.  While it may seem like a lot to keep up with, in the long run, it’s worth keeping in mind the small details, no matter how insignificant they may seem.