It’s estimated that over 5.9 MILLION children have some type of food allergy. That’s roughly 1 in every 13 children or two per classroom. Experts are shocked not just by that number, but by how fast it has grown. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. About 40% of these children experience a severe allergic reaction such that they have anaphylaxis and require medical treatment. To say this issue is important is an understatement. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like why you should ditch your plastic kitchen utensils, which oatmeals contain the most pesticides, & which crayons were found with trace amounts of asbestos. Allow us to introduce you to Derin Alemli, the Founder and CEO fo Square Roots Kitchen and Down Beats. He specializes in providing food for children with allergies and what he has to say could save a life.
Disclosure: This post is written by Derin Alemli, the Founder of Square Roots Kitchen.
As a restaurant owner, I am passionate about making sure my food is suitable and tasty to eat for people with all types of food allergies, especially when it comes to ordering for children. My restaurant features high-tech touch panels where dinners can input what type of food allergy they have and my system shows them all the lunch options that they can have and ways to substitute ingredients so that they can have any food option on the menu. However, if you are at a restaurant where this is not an option, here are some of my tips for taking your child with food allergies out to eat:
Check, Double Check, and Check Again
From the moment you make the reservation, it needs to be clear that someone in your party has a food allergy. On the phone making the reservation, you should let them know that someone in the party has a food allergy say what they are allergic to. It does not matter the severity of the allergy, you can never be too careful. When you sit down at the table, let it be known again that someone has a food allergy. This time, be sure to point out who the person with the food allergy is so that the waiter can identify that person. Ask the waiter what foods on the menu lack the ingredient. If there is something that your child really wants but is unable to have, ask if they can make substitutions. Finally, if the waiter something is suitable to eat, always check again or ask to speak to the manager or chef. It is better safe than sorry.
Avoid Foods with Common Allergies, Even If You Asked the Waiter
Do some research on common foods that contain your child’s allergy. By doing this, you give your child the ability to avoid certain foods altogether and can worry less about individual ingredients. For example, if your child has a nut allergy, tell them to avoid eating all types of bread. By taking out the concern with induvial ingredients, you are decreasing the risk of a mistake being done by a waiter or kitchen staff.
Have Your Child Order Their Own Food
It may seem daunting, but teaching your child to order their own food at a restaurant is very important in terms of teaching your child to explain his or her allergy and do so in an articulate way. Be sure to only add on or interrupt your child while they are explaining their allergy only if they are missing a crucial detail. The sooner you can trust your child to order for themselves, the more you can relax at a restaurant. This also allows your child to have more freedom in other ways as well. They can eat at a friend’s house or order at a restaurant when you are not here. The more you can trust your child to explain their allergy, the more you as a parent can feel confident about them.
About the Author
Derin Alemli is Founder and CEO of Square Roots Kitchen and Down Beats. He earned his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and his CFA charter while working full time for Grosvenor Capital Management in hedge fund portfolio management. Here he found great success, but not fulfillment. This success however, allowed him to pursue his dreams of being an entrepreneur. After six years of hedge fund and mutual fund management, Derin invested his own capital and launched his first business, DownBeats, a brand of ear plugs for the concert market.