Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Challenges of Eating Out

My daughter Carlese has food allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, sesame, mustard, tree nuts, and birch pollen which means no fresh apples. We do not eat out very often because there are so many issues involved in eating out.

First of all, as a parent of a child with food allergies there is the fear of someone not preparing the food correctly when it comes to dining out. Eating out has always been a very hard thing for me to do with my daughter. There are just so many things that have gone wrong in the past at restaurants.

I think more and more restaurants are trying to be careful in the preparation of foods. However, the restaurant industry is still making serious mistakes. I am not sure where the breakdown occurs. Could it be that the staff are not educated in the careful preparation of foods when it comes to food allergies?

Recently my daugther went out to dinner with her father and ordered corn on the cob, chicken and salad. Everything seemed fine. She loved the corn on the cob so much she ordered another one.

Unfortunately, the second order of corn on the cob was not so great. She ended up having an allergic reaction. There must have been some cross-contamination issues with the second order. My daughter stated she had a "yukky" taste in ther mouth after eating the second corn on the cob.

Her father gave her benadryl but it did not seem to help. She ended up in the emergency room because of the poor prepartion of the second corn on the cob. They monitored her in the emergency room until she felt better and the food allergy symptoms went away.

They also gave her some steroids to help prevent a rebound since she was not given the epi-pen shot after the reaction.

This trip to the restaurant was not a good experience for her. How far do you go in trying to do the "normal" things our society tells us?

It is hard to trust someone else to prepare your child's food, when you are talking about life-threatening food allergies. But, at the same time you do not want to keep your child in a bubble for the rest of their life. They need to live life and experience things too.

I also think that as a parent of a child with food allergies, you learn to create a "new" normal for your child in so many ways. Such as checking ingredients on labels constantly, frequent handwashing, and the questioning of food preparation.

We will not be eating out at a restaurant again any time soon. Our new normal is going to be no restaurants. I will try to find creative alternatives to eating out so my daughter does not feel like she is missing out.

It is not easy but, I have to do my best to make sure my daughter is safe. Nothing is more important than that.

Stay well, stay safe and be brave.
Debra Denhart

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