Eating out at restaurants can be amazing, but for people with food allergies it can be stressful or, at the very least, irritating. Trying new restaurants can be especially complicated, so here's a handy guide on what to do if you're going to a restaurant with allergies or someone you're eating with has food allergies.

For Those with the Allergies:

1. Research the restaurant in advance.

Thanks to the Internet, you can easily look up information about any restaurant you're going to before you even go to the restaurant. There are still restaurants that use peanut oil, so it is important to make sure you are not going to a restaurant that makes everything with a major allergen. Many restaurants nowadays post their menus online, so you can also look at the menu even before going to the restaurant and figure out what you can probably eat in advance.  The last thing you want to happen is that you go to a restaurant only to find out you can't have anything on the menu, and, trust me, it will not be fun. 

2. Beware of unclean utensils.

Using unclean utensils has actually caused me to have reactions before, and it was never fun. Before using any utensils or glasses, it's a good idea to check them for any food residue. If there is any, request for a new utensil or attempt to clean it yourself, depending on the severity of your allergies. 

3. When giving your order, be very specific. 

I mentioned in my previous article that there have been many instances where I've had to clarify that I cannot have anything that has butter in it because I am allergic to milk. Some waiters were genuinely surprised when I told them this important piece of information. 

Sometimes it won't occur to the server that your allergen is present in a common ingredient, so try to be specific as possible when talking about what you are allergic to. If you're more specific, then they can have the correct precautions in place when preparing your food. Other times there may be variations of your allergen that you can eat, and you should notify the server of that if you want it in your dish. 

4. Be assertive.

Remember that your health and/or continued existence is on the line in these scenarios. Do not feel guilty or embarrassed that you are doing and saying all of these things. If you have social anxiety, are a generally shy person, or just uncomfortable in situations like these, remember that you have every right to ask these questions because it concerns your safety. 

5. Know how to say your allergens in other languages.

This problem is the least likely one to occur, but nonetheless you should be prepared for this if you're traveling internationally. You could potentially use google translate if you're desperate, but the best option is to get someone who speaks the language to make the list for you. Obtaining the list can be fairly easy, and it will be more reliable than google translate. You can title the list as "Allergen" in whatever language you need and then have all the allergens listed below the title.

For Those without the Allergies:

1. You do not need to be constantly prepared to stab your friend with an EpiPen. Seriously.

On the off chance your friend does need to use medicine or go to a hospital, do your best to stay calm and help them stay calm as well. The last thing your friend needs is that you are having a panic attack over their potential dying. They also might need assistance during this entire situation, and as the person who is not incapacitated, you have to be the one to help them. 

2. Let them order first.

The waiter is going to need his/her/their full attention on your friend when your friend is listing off all the ways they could easily get sick and/or die, so try to be patient and let them take care of that first. Then, after the waiter has taken down your friend's allergens and order, you can order your food. 

3. Do not be a messy eater.

You'll be eating in a confined space with your friend, and depending on their allergy, if your food, say, splatters onto them, that could trigger a reaction. Should you be overly cautious and hyperaware of your every move? Not necessarily. For the most part all you have to do is not be a slob, chew with your mouth closed, respect personal space, and don't throw food. 

4. Be considerate of especially sensitive allergies.

This case is specific for very severe allergies. If your friend can't be very close to a certain allergen, then maybe don't order a dish that has said allergen. Remember, this is a person's overall safety, and some allergies are partially airborne. You can order that dish another time you go to that restaurant or order a serving of it to go. 

5. Try having a plan in advance.

Sometimes researching the restaurant will not give you all the information you need, so if it turns out your friend can't eat at that restaurant, have a backup plan and be flexible. After all, it's not their fault the restaurant can't accommodate their dietary restrictions, and they didn't choose to have those dietary restrictions in the first place.

That concludes my handy guide on how to either avoid death yourself or help your friend avoid it while dining at a restaurant! I hope this article was helpful, and if you want to read more about food allergies, check out these articles:

Sudden Food Allergy

Food Allergy Hacks

Unexpected Food Allergy Issues