Going out to eat has become a huge fad and pass time in the United States. After working longer hours than generations have in the past, people want to relax, socialize with friends and family, and eat good food. People with food intolerances are struggling to keep up with this social trend, as they are faced with many difficulties when going out to eat. Believe me, as a college student with multiple allergies, I can relate to the pain of missing pizza on the way back from a party or wings during a study break before finals. However, by being prepared and following some simple steps, people plagued by allergies can also enjoy a meal out every once in awhile.

Step 1: Do your research. When you move to a new area or are recently diagnosed with allergies, go online to sites such as safefare.org or allergyeats.com to find restaurants in your area that can accommodate you. Even if you do not see your favorite lunch spot on there, you can call them directly to see if they have any special items they can offer you. They are service providers, so they should be willing to understand your problem and offer a solution. Food allergies are becoming more prevalent-chances are many of these restaurants have allergy friendly items or menus.

Step 2: Be prepared. When you are going out to eat, you must be sure of what you can and can’t eat. If you are allergic to milk, you cannot have alfredo sauce. If you can’t eat soy, then unfortunately, you’ll have to skip out on the edamame. Once you have these basics down, you should also be ready to explain to the server the severity of your allergy or intolerance. If you are deathly allergic, any food prepared in the same area of the kitchen could be a danger to your health. This step is crucial in saving yourself from a very unpleasant trip to the hospital.

Step 3: Communication is key. You need to be able to clearly communicate all of your allergies, intolerances, and concerns to the server. If they seem unsure of your request, feel free to ask to speak with the chef- after all, this will be the person cooking your food. Once you receive assurance that none of your allergies will be present in your dish, you can relax and enjoy your meal. Just like everyone else, you deserve it!