|[December 17, 2012]
AllergyEats: A Helpful, Free Resource for the Holidays: Reduces Stress Around Dining Out, Parties and Traveling
BOSTON --(Business Wire)--
During the holidays, many of us dine out more often, while traveling to
visit family and friends, shopping for gifts or vacationing during
school break. For the over 15 million people with food allergies and
intolerances, dining out can be tremendously stressful, especially when
navigating unfamiliar restaurants. AllergyEats (www.allergyeats.com),
the most comprehensive source for finding allergy-friendly restaurants,
offers a solution. The free website, smartphone app and online community
provide valuable, peer-based information about how well - or poorly -
restaurants accommodate people with food allergies and intolerances,
helping these individuals make more informed decisions about which
restaurants to visit and which to avoid.
"Much of the holidays revolve around food, which can be a huge source of
anxiety for people with food allergies and intolerances. AllergyEats,
a peer-based website, smartphone app and social media community, can
help reduce that stress dramatically by aiding food-allergic and gluten
intolerant individuals in finding accommodating restaurants," said Paul
Antico, Founder of AllergyEats, father of three food-allergic children
and passionate food allergy advocate.
Antico, who has dined out extensively with his three food-allergic
children, offers the following tips to other food-allergic families who
are navigating the holiday season - and all of the restaurant meals,
parties and travel stops that go with it:
Research restaurants in advance. Whether you're traveling
across town or across the country, conduct online research about
restaurants' allergy-friendliness, as well as their menus, ingredient
lists and allergen statements. A site like AllergyEats
can be incredibly helpful, allowing you to find restaurants where
other food-allergic diners have had positive experiences and avoid the
ones that are less allergy-friendly. Additionally, interactive
smartphone apps, like the free AllergyEats app, provide mobile access
to peer-based allergy-friendliness restaurant ratings, as well as
restaurants' websites, menus, allergen lists, certifications, phone
numbers and more.
Plan the prty, whenever possible. If your family and friends
are gathering at a restaurant for a special holiday meal, offer to
spearhead the event planning. That way, you can select an
establishment that's more allergy-friendly and better able to
accommodate your special dietary restrictions.
Call ahead. This tip is valuable year-round, but it's
especially important during the busy holiday season. Call the
restaurant in advance to inform them of your food allergies and ask
about their food allergy protocols. If you're attending a party, ask
if the restaurant's chef can prepare an allergen-free meal for you.
Be prepared. Always travel with
Epi-pens, Benadryl or other allergy medications in case of an allergic
reaction. Make sure someone else at the party knows about your
allergies, signs of a reaction and emergency procedures - especially
if your reactions could be severe. Even restaurants with the best
intentions and food allergy protocols can occasionally have a mishap,
so always be prepared in case of an emergency.
Consider simple foods. Depending on your comfort with the
restaurant's staff, allergy knowledge, and procedures, you may want to
consider ordering something basic, such as broiled chicken or fish
versus a meal with complicated breadings, sauces or marinades.
Avoid buffets at restaurants and parties. Even if a dish wasn't
cooked with peanuts, dairy, eggs, gluten, or your other allergy
triggers, it can easily be cross-contaminated from other items or
utensils in a buffet. Avoid buffets altogether and ask for a separate
plate of food free of your food allergens.
Ask open-ended questions. If you're allergic to peanuts,
instead of asking whether French fries are cooked in peanut oil, which
results in a yes or no answer, ask what kind of oil is used in the
fryer. This reduces the chance that the server will "guess" at the
answer. Be proactive and ask about restaurants' food-allergy
protocols, ingredient lists, and meal preparation techniques - but in
a way that inspires dialogue, rather than simple yes or no answers.
Stay vigilant wherever you go. Your favorite local restaurant
may be terrific about accommodating your food allergies, but never
assume that another restaurant - even if it's part of the same chain -
will be able to cater to your needs, as well. Also, during the busy
holiday season, many restaurants bring on additional staff, that may
not be trained as extensively as the year-round staff. Be cautious
every time you dine out - even if you eat at the restaurant regularly.
Read ingredient lists and labels. Don't be shy about asking to
read the ingredient labels at restaurants to avoid products containing
your allergy triggers. By double-checking labels, you can feel more
confident that the sauces, breads and other foods are free of your
Leverage the food allergy community for advice, tips and
info-sharing. Discussions on food allergy Blogs and social media
sites (including the AllergyEats Facebook (News - Alert) page and blog: http://www.facebook.com/AllergyEats
contain helpful information from the food allergy community. These
forums offer great tips, advice and "lessons learned" about traveling
with food allergies.
Trust your instincts. Does the restaurant's server, manager
and/or chef appear confident and knowledgeable about how to handle
your special meal preparation If not, leave and find another
AllergyEats lists more than 575,000 restaurants nationwide, which food
allergic diners can rate. The site also offers information on
restaurants' menus (including gluten-free menus), allergen lists,
nutrition information, certifications, web links, directions and more.
The site, app and related social media sites help families with food
allergies reduce the guesswork - and the anxiety - surrounding dining
out with food allergies.
Most restaurant review sites include information about establishments'
food, ambiance or service, but AllergyEats is singularly focused on food
allergies, with peer reviews spotlighting where people with food
allergies or intolerances have more comfortably eaten.
AllergyEats has been endorsed by highly-respected food, health and
allergy organizations and individuals, including the Asthma and Allergy
Foundation of America, Gluten Intolerance Group, Massachusetts
Restaurant Association, Chef Ming Tsai, Chef Joel Schaefer and more.
AllergyEats was recently selected as the About.com 2012 Readers' Choice
Award winner for best Food Allergy App. The AllergyEats smartphone app
also won a Web Health Award and was honored as one of Healthline's Top
Ten Food Allergy Apps. For more information, please visit www.AllergyEats.com.
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