“Read My Lips: Restaurant!” Eating Out With Food Allergies & How We Do It

It’s no secret, I love to eat out.  In fact, the title is one of my infamous quotes from my preschool years.  My mom had asked me what I wanted for dinner and that was my response.  I’m sure that gave her and my dad a good chuckle as they pulled out some leftovers from the fridge.

Now, we only eat out after church on Sunday, rare occasions, date night (three cheers for eating with two hands!) and for celebrations.  This past Friday night we were celebrating Nathan finishing his first year of homeschool preschool.  We followed a real curriculum that I bought from one of my favorite homeschool blogs.  Nathan did really well, and I was so happy at his progress when I filled out his end of year assessment.  To celebrate, we decided to ask Nathan what he’d like to do.  He replied with, “The Cow House!” , which is our local dairy farm.  Go figure.  My kid with a life threatening dairy allergy wants to go to a dairy farm for ice cream.  Rice Dream “ice cream”, that is!  He also wanted to go to their barn and look at the animals, which is always fun.

So, how do we take an anaphylactic-to-dairy-kid to a dairy farm?  Here’s how we roll…

We take this:  a silicone baking sheet as a placemat.  I give my sister-in-law, Jenny, credit for this idea.  You can roll them up or fold them into a square to fit in lunch boxes and they work perfectly!  The link for the silicone baking sheet is not the actual one we use.  Ours were purchased at Target in the Kitchen/Baking Department.  We put it down after wiping the table and chairs REALLY well with baby wipes.  Nathan knows not to touch anything until it has been wiped.


Next, we pack his food.  I always take similar foods to what we are having.  The restaurant workers were gracious enough to heat his chicken nuggets (or we do it at home right before we leave), and they generally are, you just have to ask and explain the allergy.  Here is Nathan’s lunch box that we love!  It’s the Bento Insulated Laptop Lunchbox, with the Bento Buddies containers.


Then we wipe his hands really well with baby wipes, or head to the bathroom for soap and water.  This is crucial, in case your little one has touched something that you don’t want in their mouth.  Once he is eating, I make sure to wipe my hands before touching him or his meal if he asks for help.  We use A LOT of baby wipes when we go to restaurants.

IMG_4363I just love that smile of him enjoying his Rice Dream “ice cream”.  Sometimes we take our own safe ice cream cones and “build” our cone there with ice cream and safe sprinkles.

We used to order food for Nathan in select restaurants like Red Robin, Qdoba, and Chipotle.  After a mysterious reaction at Chipotle a year ago we decided to stop eating out with him.  At that time he was still young enough to not care about taking his own meal, and for now still seems to be OK with it.  I do watch his emotions closely to make sure he’s not getting bummed out.  We buy him juice boxes or potato chips where we can-he loves that!  Our goal is to get him eating in at least Red Robin again since they have such a great allergy rating on Allergy Eats.  We actually had really good luck with our local Red Robin and would love to let him enjoy safe meals.

I’d love to hear from you…..Do your food allergic kiddos eat safe restaurant meals or do you pack meals for restaurants?

Also, if you haven’t headed over to the Mom Vs. Food Allergy Facebook Page, head on over and give it a “Like” so you can get more food allergy tips!  Thanks!


6 thoughts on ““Read My Lips: Restaurant!” Eating Out With Food Allergies & How We Do It

  1. I can’t believe that boy is still smiling!!! The memories come back so vividly reading your blogs. It really makes me tear up. Keep watching his emotions. To me that was always the worst part. Im so glad he doesn’t seem to care right now. That makes it so much easier.

  2. We have let our son eat restaurant meals a few times. He is allergic to eggs, PN and TN, but I never sit there comfortably noshing away. I am always on edge for every strange facial expression he makes ( and there are a lot cause he is only four) or strange cough. We don’t do this very often because it can be so stressful sadly. Your article is timely though as I just did my own post on the weekend about an unplanned trip to Dairy Queen. Thankfully nothing happened, but it was the emotional reactions that ran high. Imagine not one child, but two and their mama crying in DQ. It was not a fun day 😦



    • You are so right, eating out is stressful. We’ve got it down to a science, but it’s still a bit nerve wracking when he has those little coughs or strange looks on his face. I completely get it!

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