how to handle eating out multi-allegies - unexpected, fast food, etc? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 37 Old 01-30-2010, 04:00 AM
 
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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).

Not all who wander are lost.
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#32 of 37 Old 01-30-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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This is partially a rant, but I am also looking for suggestions!

For the most part, we don't eat out.

Before our last round of allergy testing, we were avoiding dairy, peanuts, and tree nuts.

We knew for example that we couldn't have McDonalds fries (they have dairy) or Wendy's fries (shared fryer), but Burger King was ok (although we did occasionally find onion rings in our fries and the onion rings are not safe!). The burgers and buns were safe. Also, subway bread and a number of meats were safe, plus I could watch them and make sure they used fresh gloves, cleaned the knife, etc.

We don't eat fast food regularly, but there are times like if I take my car to Sears for any work, I could spend time walking the mall with the kids and eat at the mall. Sometimes you don't expect it to take 4 hours for your car. I can't drop it off and come back as I don't have a way to transport the kids without my car. And sometimes you aren't even expecting to have to take your car in. Sometimes if you have scheduled obligations and things like unexpected snowy road conditions mean that you don't have time to go home and make dinner or even sandwiches but you can pick up fast food and bring it with you. When we visit my family, they rarely offer us food, and even if they did, it may or may not be safe. Usually we bring stuff for our first meal there and cook it at my parents house. Usually it is lunch and I bring a box of pasta, some veggies and some fruit, and supplement with food from my mom's freezer. The last 2 times it was chicken patties (that won't work now because we have to add soy to the list). Then we visit people in the afternoon. Then pickup Burger King for dinner. We have the fruit throughout the day. But then if we are there for the next day we have to either got to a sit-down restaurant, or fast food for lunch and/or dinner. The hotel we stay at has a continental breakfast. dd1 loves the waffles and sometimes a bagel. I don't dare give them to dd2. So she has some boxed cereal with no milk and fruit if they have something she wants.

If we went to a sit down restaurant I would either contact them first to get a safe list (like Red Robin), talk to the manager (Friendly's) or similar. We only ate out a couple of times like that. It was really stressful and the safe items were very few. So normally we don't eat out or we do Burger King or Subway.

We like to spend the day at the Children's museum and eat lunch there. There choices are Taco Bell, Subway, Pizza Hut, Bill Gray's, and an ice cream/snack bar type place. I would let dd1 get what she wanted usually a pizza, and dd2 and I would split a sub.

So we managed. It wasn't great, but doable.

So then we find out dd2 is allergic to soy.

Burger King burgers are no longer safe and who knows what kind of oil they fry the fries in - probably soybean oil.
Subway is also no longer safe. The breads have soybean oil as does even the turkey meat.
I've looked at some of the lists from the restaurants (like Red Robin). There is almost nothing left.

I've looked at the websites for BK, McD's, Subway, and Wendy's. All of them have a few hit and miss items that are probably safe. But either they are things I have no interest in, or I would have to stop at 2-3 places to make a meal. I don't see how we can spend the day at the Children's Museum anymore since there isn't anything safe to eat for lunch (or dinner, sometimes we do afternoon/evening instead of morning/afternoon).

So, we haven't been to the Children's Museum in a few months. I practically starved myself last time we visited my family and dd2 lived off of snacks and fruit. We did make lunch at my mom's (with the chicken patties that did not say they contained soy, but probably contained soybean oil hidden as "vegetable oil"). We were late because of road conditions to my dd1's class, so I went home (in 10 minutes), and dd1 had cereal and milk for dinner while I made a sandwich to take with us for dd2 and I skipped dinner altogether. Sure would have been nice to pick up BK or something and not been so rushed and late for the class anyways because we really did not have time to drive home! One of the other mom's there was also running late because of the weather. She said, that they just went to Wendy's. Must be nice! We can't go anywhere.

Wednesday, I had an activity at dd2's school - no siblings. So dd1 went to my SIL's house. When she was begging me for a cheeseburger, I actually couldn't tell her no. I got her one and let her take it to SIL's house even though she already ate dinner at home. This way she could have it when dd2 was not around her to see her eat it and be tortured because she couldn't have something too. But of course dd2 was in the car when I went through the drive-thru. So she was throwing a fit that she wanted a hamburger. She is so smart, at 2, she knows she can't have a cheeseburger because she is allergic to dairy so she asked for a hamburger! But I couldn't get her one.

Yes, I do ALWAYS bring safe snacks with us when we go places. But snacks don't cut it for a meal. I supposed I could pack a cooler and leave it in the car when we go to the Children's Museum. I can't carry it around the museum, so I would have to leave it in the car. Then I would have to bundle my kids up in coats and everything just to go get the cooler when it was time to eat. Not fun. I can't see doing that. And I know part of the fun for them was the fact that they were getting to eat out.

What do I do if we unexpectedly have to be out over lunch or dinner time? If it is unexpected, then I obviously wouldn't have packed sandwiches or anything. Do I feed dd1 and make dd2 just watch and starve? Do I make my kids both starve because of one child's allergies? How can I still give my kids that fun treat of going out with mommy when things just aren't safe anymore? When we went to Friendly's it was such a great bonding time. Now I can't do that with them anymore?

What can I feed my kids when we are out of town or on vacation, or traveling through an airport, on the go where I can't bring lunch and dinner with us?

Isn't there any fast food and other restaurants that are safe for dairy, soy, tree nut and peanut allergic people? Are we relegated to either starve or eat at home?
I haven't had a chance to read all of the thread but at Healthconcerns.com they have two products Enteromend and Digest and Thrive that can help with accidental eating of offending foods.
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#33 of 37 Old 01-30-2010, 06:50 PM
 
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All of them are allergic to the same things?
Not exactly. My oldest is extremely allergic to gluten, dairy and soy. The inflammation in her body makes her also unable to have any sugar or nightshades, too many processed foods, etc.

My younger 2 are seriously allergic to dairy and soy, but only sensitive to gluten. It's easier just to avoid it as a family. As for the sugar, well since that's just not something we NEED, we also try to avoid it and use unprocessed substitutions.

My youngest is also allergic/maybe just sensitive to spinach and blackberries, but those are so easy to avoid!

It really IS the soy allergy that cramps our style and makes me about subsidized mono-crops! Most GF products use soy freely, not to mention all of the other instances discussed in this thread.
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#34 of 37 Old 01-30-2010, 11:02 PM
 
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We avoid corn, soy, nuts (all), peanuts, legumes and we do not eat much sugar( we usually substitute with maple syrup, honey or agave). The sugar because we don't need it and I really could go without the hyped kids Our youngest is allergic to the corn, soy, legumes and nuts so we all avoid for the most part. If we have salad we all have the same salad with different dressings. We do not eat at restaurants unless we have food for Finn, we bring in a cooler and have always just said that he is allergic and mentioned the epi. We have snacks in the car, usually sunbutter, crackers, rice crisps and other fruit and veggies. We have a few safe brands of chips that we get, because Finn knows that Blue Corn chips are not safe we get those for the other kids and Finn has his own safe chips. He knows that he cannot have many foods when we are out, usually he is fine with it, he is always the first to ask if something has corn or soy in it. Our dd who is 10 can read the ingredients will usually check if there are foods that are in question.

We belong to a homeschooling group and that is usually where we are during the week, this was the rule before we joined and it always made me grumble because I was usually late, now I appreciate it We only occasionally have people forget and all it takes is a reminder and we take out the food, no worries. I am so lucky to have this in our lives, we know that most of the foods that Finn is exposed to are safe, or at least we know that we can check to see if they are safe. If we are out and about and we are hungry we always just stop at a grocery store, it is hard to find allergen free foods but we manage, usually veggies (organic to avoid the corn), fruit (organic) and lunchmeat (no preservatives, though this is a bit of an allergen he doesn't seem to react), there is one safe bread that Finn can have so if we are at Stop and Shop and they have it he is in luck, otherwise we just deal without.

We keep a large cooler in the truck to keep snacks and Finn carries a backpack with his own snacks if we are at a museum or other venue. We have expressed to the kids that Finn's safety is more important than the rest of our own cravings, we do allow snacks that Finn can't have and we are very careful to make sure that they are safe from cross contamination.
When the kids are at a play date without Finn they enjoy popcorn and peanut butter, most of our friends will make a point of having them as snacks when Finn isn't there because they know the kids don't get them much.

I will say that it is not really fun, it is more effort to put food together and more expensive for some foods but it is worth it for us.... Finn is safe. When we went to the Museum earlier this month we brought everything for two meals and snacks, it was cheaper and easier, we didn't have to stand in line and our kids were happy. I can say that we usually try to pack the lightest foods possible, we avoid apples and other heavier foods unless we are going to have them as snacks early in the day.

We do miss certain foods, peas and beans were a staple for us before we knew of the allergies. I do feel worse knowing that Finn was in a hives reaction for more than a year.....seeing Finn not suffering is all the impetus that I need to make the effort. I can say that we are eating a very healthy diet and it means so much to me to see our kids rally around Finn and support him in situations where he is different. They are very proud of him and we are too. It is cool to see a 4yo stand up for himself, he knows that he is special (not because of his food allergies but because of who he is ) and that he is incredible to see forming in a child, that he will take responsibility at such a young age and make such important, informed decisions. (We do check the foods but he is usually right, unlike my mil

I hope that it does get easier for your family, I know that it took us almost a year to get used to this type of life and even now a few of our boys will ask if we can eat somewhere like Wendys but it is usually one of the older kids who remind them that it is not safe for Finn and that the food there is junk anyway. We did find that buying in bulk made it easier for us, when we find a food that is safe and we like it we buy a case (through our co-op) and that way I can throw it in the car (if it is non-perishable) to keep on hand for drives.

In the past people have commented that it must be so hard for Finn to have to have special food, but I can say that his food always tastes as good if not better than the other foods around and that he eats better than most kids I know.... he has super special chocolate chips and his very own kind of 'ice cream' and other snacks that the kids love to have. I found a cooler that Finn really likes and he is the only one who can put food in it, that way it is special. It sometimes helps to have a lollipop or some other treat in there for him so I can use it to placate him if there if he gets upset.

~laura

laura, dh Brian, ds Rory 14, dd Ellie 13, ds Caelan 11, ds Seamus 9, ds Finn 7 and Penelope 2 !!!!

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#35 of 37 Old 01-31-2010, 03:25 AM
 
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yes, I suppose this IS what we will need to do. Do you carry it with you, or do you keep it in the car and get it when you are ready for it?
That depends on the day. Sometimes we would have a stoller (when the youngest was small) and other times the wagon. If either of those were the case I'd bring it in with me. Other times, and weather permitting, I'd leave the cooler in the van. It always depends on my mood and weather I suppose.
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#36 of 37 Old 02-13-2010, 07:04 PM
 
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HUGS - soy is a tough one cuz it is in EVERYTHING. We are peanut, treenut, soy, egg, dairy, gluten, rice, and sugar free here. Plus an odd assortment of fruits and veggies (like all squashes and tropicals) are off the list for us.

I pack - PERIOD. We will go to SeaWorld or the local Zoo for the entire day - eat breakfast on the drive, and have lunch AND dinner packed. Sometimes we do a cooler if we are visiting peopleor going to a party. If we will be walking - then I have out picnic ina backpack (along with the epis, wipes, and other allergy junk we have to cart around). I freeze a few bottlesof water - acts as icepacks for the food and we have cold water to drink later inthe day.

I always have snacks - but I always have stuff for FOOD too, just cuz you never know what may happen - especially with kiddos. DS had his first asthma attack and ended up in the PICU - I had enough food to get us thru until DH could get home to packa cooler, get clothes, etc.

Some of our "picnic" fare includes- homemade chicken or turkey nuggets. AppleGate Farms or Wellshire Farms deli meats. Sheltons or Wellshire Farms hotdogs or ham steaks (love the chicken and turkey dogs!) that have been precooked and cut up. Homemade popcorn. Avocado or Olive oil potato chips, Sweet potato chips. Carrots and otehr raw veggies. I will sometimes pack green salad or some quinoa salad for myself, especially if I am packing the cooler. Sandwiches for DH.

If we HAVE to eat out or are having a special treat - there are very very few places I trust. Allergy lists are great but that does not minimize the risk of cross contamination at all - just means they didn't start out with those ingredients. Who is to say the cook didn't use a contaminated spoon, worksurface, gloves, etc?? I guess it depends on how severely you react...

I have 1 local resturant that I feel "safe"eating at - it is a small med. grill that is family owned and operated. I spoke directly with the cook regarding all the allergies and the precautions I wanted to have taken. We ALWAYS speak to the cook when we go there - although they know us by name and know exactly what we are going to order for DS. FYI - grills are seasoned with butter or oil/cookingspray - almost always it is a soy based spray. veggie oil = soy. Something that most of the staff don'tseem to know. I insist on our food being panseared with oliveoil- reduces contamination.
Fryers - always soy, sometimes soy and peanut- most times they fry EVERYTHING together, fries, rings, nuggets, fingers, etc. Not safe IMO.

I also have several places in Orlando that we will go to- Disney resturants surprisingly. They are AWESOME about allergy dining. Again I insist on speaking directly to the chef/cook.

I used to ask for a manager and let them relay the info - but there was always something wrong.Likeat Chilis- great allergy infofor their menus - love the infothey have and the choices. BUt when I ampaying thru the nose for a plain, pan seared burger patty and some dry steamed broccoli - I don't expect it to come out with butter and seasoning dripping on it. We actually travel to Orlando to a specific Chilis when we decide to eat there cuz the manager goes into the kitchen and makes the food himself! Love Riley! And Orlando is over an 1.5 hour drive for us.

I know it is really hard, but packing is the way to go -cheaper, healthier, and allergen free! A little extra time and effort -like having stuff in your freezer and fridge for sudden roadtrips. BTW frozen nuggets defrost perfectly on the road and don'trequire an icepack or frozenwater
But a bookbag or large tote stylepurse is essential to making it all work with ease. atleast in our experience.
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#37 of 37 Old 02-13-2010, 07:40 PM
 
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also wanted to add this about crosscontamination....at home, I have plates, cups,bowls, fryingpans, pots, etc that are just for DS. I can't ensure this when we are out, and that always has me a bit freaked out. But we are totally nut and soy free in this house since they are DS ana. allergies (reacts on contact to residue on objects, hands,kisses, etc). DH is NOT allowed to cheat and eat these things outside of the house....Period. I do allow him to have sunbutter, and he is uber picky and he enjoys it. After a week or so of NO anything butter, sunbutter may have more appeal. But DS isn't allowed to have it due to the XContamin. issue with soy. DAMN SOY! ARG!!!

Occasionally he will stop at a fast food place, but go for aburger or grilled chicken instead of the fried chicken sandwich, and skip the fries. Or, more likely, he willgrab a sub somewhere. It is a sacrifice we have all made to keep DS healthy.
People know they may not eat any peanut products or significant soy products before visting with DS. He is THAT sensitive. I don't trust washing hands and brushing teeth. It was hard to drive this point home to my ILs, but not allowing him to visit for a few weeks made my point clear. We go to playgroups regularly, and all the moms are awesome about bringing safe snacks for the kiddos. We do venture out to story time, dance class, tumbleclass, etc - and he loves playing with new kids - my heart is in my throat the whole time, just praying that my super affectionate lovebug will not hug anyone who ate peanut butter....
While out of the house, I can only control so much - after that it is damage control.We always have wet wipes and wipe his hands constantly. Always have homeoallergy drops, benadryl, and epis. Always have homeo asthma drops and the inhaler. That is just how we roll now. But in the house, It is a SAFE zone. PERIOD. One place wecan all relax and not stress out over DS getting sick.

That said, other foods like gluten, diary, eggs, etc that need to be ingested to make him sick-DH is allowed those inthe house. Top shelves of the pantry and fridge for that stuff. And DS is awesome -he knows what his allergies are and will ask himself. Or look at the ingredients himself. We hated being the meanies, always saying "no, that will make you sick" - so I started showing him what was in it, lets look together at the ingredients - and he will now tell us that things are not safe forhim- giving him a wonderful sense of control over things.

Finding "treats" have been essential in making life more "normal" - Yummy earth, College Farms, and Surf Sweets make lollipops, gummies, etc. EnjoyLife makes cereal bars, cookies, and delicious choc chips and choc bars. Clif Kids twisted fruit and any brand of fruit leather are also big hits here... Coconut icecream is awesome too....

Hang in there, it does get easier - and be firm, stick to your gut instinct to ban the PB from hte house. use that episode as ammo to stand your ground if necessary. If he had kissed her mouth instead of her forehead she could have had a full blown ana reaction. You are incredibly lucky that it was only hives, which are an ana reaction too though. Make sure you watch for the rebound effect too- that was a nasty surprise noone warned us about....
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