It is vital you carry 2 adrenaline auto-injectors with you at ALL times.
You may be given an extra auto-injector to store at a school, workplace or elsewhere.
It’s important to store your auto-injector correctly and have it clearly labelled with your name and instructions.
You could store your 2 auto-injectors in a clear, resealable bag with a label stating, Your Name, and instructions: ‘Inject the thigh and call an ambulance’. Although the epi-pen injector states this itself, in a situation where one person may be holding the auto-injector, others can concentrate on the next step of calling the ambulance. A zip-lock plastic bag is very useful as the 2 auto-injectors are always together, they can be moved easily from bag to bag and are always visible if someone is searching for it when needed. It prevents them from liquid damage and is already packed and ready to go through any security in airports, museums or public buildings.
2. Anti-histamine tablets and Inhalers
If you have allergies, you may have been advised to carry additional medication with you.
Depending on the size, you could store this medication in a similar clear, resealable, bag labelled with your name and instructions.
If possible, prepare all meals yourself in a safe, clean environment that has no risk of cross-contact with traces of allergen. Use individual ingredients to make meals from scratch instead of pre-made mixes that may contain spices/sauces/dressings/added ingredients. Flavour your food with spices and sauces that are safe for you.
4. Avoid certain products
Avoid certain food products that may contain potential allergens such as:
- granola/granola bars
- desserts made from pre-made mixes
- curry mixes
- dishes containing sauces
- Pick & mix sweets and ice cream
UNLESS made by yourself or in a nut-free environment as these products often contain traces of allergens or have been manufactured in an area that handles allergens.
Be careful with scooped ice cream and toppings as although each flavour may be in different containers, often the same utensil is used to scoop all flavours for convenience or the gloves may not changed by staff when preparing a new order.
5.Do your Research
Research restaurants nearby that cater for individuals with allergies, as nowadays many restaurants have allergy policies and different menus for specific dietary requirements. Look up the menu and the allergen list online and follow up with a phone call/ /email or visit the restaurant to enquire about their allergy policy and ask if they can cater for you.
If you are not in the position to research in advance and just want a quick bite to eat, choose a reliable restaurant that you have eaten in before and ask to speak with the manager about your allergy. Be aware that ingredients can change within recipes at any time and different chefs may add or leave out particular ingredients. So just because you’ve eaten something on one occasion with no issues, it doesn’t mean the dish is necessarily safe next time. ALWAYS speak with staff about your food allergies.
6. Inform staff about food allergies and watch reaction
At the restaurant, ask to speak with the manager, and chef if possible, about your food allergies. Make eye-contact and explain the severity of your allergy when you speak with them. Watch their reaction, they could freeze up and show uncertainty of how to respond or they may know how to deal with these requests and confidently inform you of their allergy precautions. I’ve found that the most accommodating restaurants are proud of their ability to serve food-allergic customers, with staff members who are enthusiastic about explaining their food allergy policies and confident in answering your questions. If you do not feel reassured by their response, consider finding another restaurant.
7. Ask open-ended questions
Ask open-ended questions where the staff must seek out the correct answer on site from the chef instead of yes/no answers. Such as what cooking oil do you use? Or, what sauces/dips do you have? With this approach, staff are likely to source the correct information directly from the chef or kitchen staff. Using this process the staff aren’t inclined to just answer yes/no without greater investigation.
Ask about the ingredients list, food preparation or cross-contamination risks, for example if different utensils are used for each food type or if gloves are used to prepare special requests.
Dine at off peak hours when possible; the restaurant will be less busy, the staff should have time double-check ingredients and allergen lists and can take precautions with your order.
9. Hidden Labels
Be aware of hidden allergens and ensure the restaurant is aware of hidden names for allergens. It is a good idea to keep a card in your purse displaying all the possible names for your allergen and show it to staff/chefs.
10. Be Confident
An open dialogue is vital between the consumer and the restaurant staff, manufacturer or retailor providing a food product.
Stay calm, clear and confident when informing staff about your allergy and ask questions about your chosen dish to ensure it is allergen free and safe for you.
It is important to remain calm, confident and persistent when requesting your food allergy needs. People may perceive you as being fussy but inform them of the severity of your allergy and that you must take these precautions for your own safety. It can become frustrating if the staff don’t understand your dietary requirements, so it is worth preparing what you what to say in a clear and polite manner.