We had to avoid soy, although soy oil/lecithen didn't cause problems (we limited exposure to them, but when traveling we didn't pay attention to it). You are certain that you need to avoid soy oil/lecithen?
We travel a lot. We until recently were avoiding egg (dd1) and dairy/soy/legume/peanut/treenut/fish/shellfish (dd2). When we've been avoiding gluten in addition, we usually just get me (since the avoiding at that point has been with a bf baby) salad or fruit, at restaurants.
It is frustrating to travel while you've got food allergies, but it's been doable for us (and again, that might be in part because soy oil/lecithen weren't being studiously avoided). At Wendy's
, we usually just get their burger, plain (nothing on it, no bun); baked potato (if they have a dedicated fry fryer, and some do, then we can have fries) -- if they serve breakfast, we don't eat there (since there are egg cross-contamination issues). We do the same if the Subway
does breakfast sandwiches (don't eat there).Outback
is awesome. While their website doesn't have as much information, if you read through it, it says to tell the server what the concern is and they will accomodate. So we typically just tell the server upfront that we have multiple food allergies, including dairy, soy, and egg, and then order:
steak, cooked in a separate pan, no butter/margarine, no seasonings
baked potato (plain, nothing with) or baked sweet potato (plain)
steamed vegetables with no butter or anything (plain)
They will bring labels out for you to read (their BBQ ribs and fries are also safe for us but check first) -- someone there really trains the staff well on this!
If you're in a small town with no safe fast-food options (our go-tos are Subway and Wendy's), then a steak place is usually workable. If you talk to the manager or chef, they can usually at least make you a steak in a separate pan, and you can have a naked salad. We have called ahead a few times and had good luck. It's helpful to talk to the manager/owner, tell them when you anticipate being there. We have been met by that person and they have obviously supervised our meals, the times we have done that. Sometimes, though, you run into a restaurant where they tell you that NOTHING on their menu is safe (they're so afraid that you'll react to SOMETHING that they won't even tell you that their leaf lettuce is safe
We check the websites for all our 'safe' places before we travel to make sure menu items haven't changed. And I usually mention directly that we have an allergy and that's why we're ordering as we are. This has helped us more than once, where a waiter has said, "WAIT! The ingredients just changed, I think it might have egg in it now!" When in doubt, ask to see the labels.
Otherwise, when we are traveling, whether it's a day trip or more, we always check to see whether workable restaurants are available for us in the area (googlemaps), and we bring safe snacks regardless. But especially if we don't anticipate having safe restaurant food available, we will pack coolers too. A good cooler with lots of ice and ice packs can handle even FL heat (BTDT this summer). You might have to stop somewhere and replace ice if it's really hot, but you can do that at any gas station.
We stay at hotels which have minifridges (or kitchenettes) and microwaves. As long as we have a way to refreeze our ice packs overnight, keep our cold food safe, and heat oatmeal for breakfast for me and the girls, we are set for travel pretty well.
My mom is annoyed by how much food we bring when we visit - but she is about 65 miles from the nearest store where we can find much for safe foods (other than plain fruits/veggies). Any time we travel, I've got a laundry basket (really, a laundry basket) that I load up with safe foods - crackers, chips, candies, canned fruit/applesauce, or whatever. A variety, and I pack enough to share, because for whatever reason, it seems like people want to try what we have (and I need to have enough that we don't run out). I make bread ahead of time, and bring our bread machine with premeasured dry ingredients [yeast, gluten in the cooler and oil in the laundry basket].
I've been doing this for six years now. It gets to be second nature. Dh and I both know that before we go anywhere (other than errands around town), I need to pack a bag of snacks, and the cooler -- and if we'll be running many errands, then some snacks go in the car anyway.
Socializing is difficult, because food is such a central part of it -- friends and family that we had before this, I just tell them what we're bringing, that I don't want them to 'fix something special' for me/the girls, because it's too much work and I don't want to impose, and it's awfully complicated. And they're not offended (well ILs are sometimes but no one else really). In terms of meeting people ... I've honestly not worked hard on making new friends, because it just feels awkward to me. When you're just getting to know someone, telling them when they ask you to dinner, "Oh, well, we can't eat X Y Z or B...." is just awkward. I need to suck it up, because we need to make more friends here.
In terms of sisters and allergenic foods -- our girls had different allergies, actually (Ina outgrew all but eggs by the time she was 2; SJ is fine with eggs, but was dairy/soy free 'til she was nearly three and may be going back to that again after our allergist appointment this coming week) -- we almost always just eat what's safe for both girls. It's dangerous to let SJ have egg foods in the house, because she just doesn't understand not to touch things etc. afterwards - or try to offer them directly to her sister (ie shove into her mouth). When she's older, maybe we'll let her have them more. But right now it doesn't make sense. DH misses egg, and occasionally we'll have some just for him but I'm really careful about cleaning up afterwards, bleaching, etc. I wish he didn't miss eggs so much, I'd rather just not deal with them.
When we're with family or friends and foods that are safe for one girl, but not for the other, are out - then we are careful to watch for cross-contamination. My family is really good about washing their kids' hands etc. so that is a lower risk.
I understand the desire not to deprive your dd1 --- but at the same time, I think it's absolutely understandable to respect the safety and needs of dd2 within your home. Dd1 is old enough that she should be able to come to understand that if she wants peanut butter or [insert other allergenic food] then she should eat it elsewhere, and wash hands/face etc. well before coming home. Just my opinion there, but that's how I would handle it. And the same goes for your dh too. You are in the early stages of adjusting to this, and I'm sure you are all wanting/wishing that you can continue to eat the way you used to, but changes will have to happen .... and it's not all bad, as you point out, it definitely leads to healthier diets (with all the whole foods and so few processed foods!).
It stinks to have to plan ahead for trips etc., and it would be really nice not to (dh and I aren't really joking when we say that once all the allergies are outgrown, we're taking a cross-country trip and stopping at every interesting restaurant we see
) - but it does become manageable eventually. To the extent that you don't even think about it and just take it for granted.
ETA: We also have a travel kit that we load when we're road tripping, which has plates, silverware, olive oil, sea salt, cinnamon, things like that which we tend to need when we're cooking/eating elsewhere, too. We use a checklist to make sure we don't forget to load things. But again, we take big road trips (all the way from WY to FL and back was just one of our trips last year).