So many clients have told us that their family’s food allergies make it so difficult to go out to eat, that they’ve basically given up on it. But we can hear in their voices how much this bothers them and how much they yearn to dine out like other families do.
The reason that we work so hard to allow families to eat at restaurants is because we believe that an occasional meal out is essential. Here’s why we think dining out matters:
Feeling Like a Normal Family
Dealing with allergies can sometimes take over your family life and make your kids feel like you're not a “normal family.” Your allergic child may feel abnormal and might even be socially isolated as a result of his or her allergies. But when you’re all sitting in a restaurant just like everyone else, you can feel totally normal.
Bonding without Distractions
We’ve all experienced a family meal at home where the phones are ringing (or pinging), the TV is distracting and within a few minutes one family member finds himself alone at the table. A restaurant allows you to detach from the distractions of home and spend real quality time together. There’s nowhere to go, so the whole family stays at the table and conversation flows naturally. And you’re not in the kitchen making sure each family member gets the food that’s safe for them, so you can join in the conversation and bond with your kids.
Celebrate the Good Times
Dining out is an excellent way to celebrate a birthday, graduation, anniversary or other important milestone. Marking a celebration with a special meal creates memories which family members will remember for years to come. And the family member you are honoring feels your love and attention when you make that extra effort to celebrate in style. Just because one family member is allergic does not mean that you should miss out on these special moments.
Sometimes You Just Need a Break
Cooking family meals day in and day out can be exhausting, particularly when you’re on vacation. Sometimes you just need a break from the kitchen. You need to enjoy a meal which you didn’t have to cook and which you don’t have to clean up. This is especially true when you are expending extra effort to make allergy-safe food: checking and double-checking ingredients, sterilizing surfaces and finding creative recipes.
The Food Is Awesome
A good restaurant offers superb food, pleasant ambiance and a relaxing experience. Even expert and adventurous home cooks will enjoy tasting new dishes in a restaurant. Even if it’s just a variation of a dish you serve at home, the combination of a great chef and high-quality ingredients will result in awesome food you can't replicate at home. The dishes that an allergic family member can enjoy may be limited, but a good chef can make allergy-safe food that’s delicious and creative.
Eating out is an enjoyable and important pastime. It’s true that when you’re dealing with food allergies, it’s not as simple to go out. You need to choose a cooperative restaurant, check with the chef and staff about ingredients and be very clear about what you can and can’t eat (especially if cross-contact is an issue). But it’s worth the effort - your family will enjoy the experience, strengthen their bond and create memories that they will never forget.