Tips for eating in Europe with a food allergy
Dining out for people with food allergies is a hard task itself, let alone in countries where the restaurant employees don’t speak your language. Learning the ropes for eating in Europe with a food allergy is important to avoid an Epi-Pen injection and a hospital run. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Request an allergy-free menu. This is probably something you already do. Some restaurants in Europe do in fact have an allergy-free menu, just ask.
2. Print out an image of the ingredient you’re allergic to. It would be helpful to illustrate a red ‘x’ over the image to demonstrate that you don’t want the given food.
3. Research the ingredient in the given language (don’t forget words like ‘oil’). Print out the translated word or phrase explaining the allergy in another language to show the waiter.
4. Research popular local foods to ensure your allergen is not on the list. If you find that your allergen is a popular food in the area, it may be best to find another place to visit.
5. Bring your own foods. If you’re staying in a place with a kitchen, it is a good idea to bring foods to make a safe meal for yourself.
6. Read the outdoor menu. Most restaurants in Europe have a menu outside to observe before you enter. Review the menu to see if the allergen is a popular ingredient before you enter.
7. Revisit safe restaurants. If you’re staying in the same place for a long period of time, it is a good idea to revisit restaurants that you already know are safe. Just try different meals.
8. Avoid prepackaged foods. You’re more likely to get a safe meal from fresh food than packaged foods. If you do eat from packaged foods, ensure you read the label to check for the ingredient in the given language.
9. Research the closest hospitals in the area before you embark on your trip. It may not be necessary, but if an emergency arises, you will want to know how far the closest hospital is.
10. Show how grateful you are for their attention. While it might be hard to cross the language barrier, most restaurants try their hardest to give you the best dining experience. Don’t forget to express your appreciation.
At the end of the day, you know the severity of your food allergy and how best to conduct situations to avoid a reaction. Use caution when traveling to places that can’t clearly communicate their ingredients to you. Incorporate these tips into your routine when eating abroad.