5 Tips for Eating Out
- Of course, tell your server about your allergy, and if you can tell the chef, that's even better. And, of course, it's always best to double-check, even at a "safe" restaurant, because sometimes they'll switch to canola without warning. I know there's at least a couple of people out there who shudder when they think of Applebee's, for this very reason. To be safe, check every time. Even this won't get you guarantees, as there was an Italian restaurant in downtown Milwaukee that went out of their way to read every single label, checked back with us many times while making Bryan's dinner, and still got something wrong. This proves that no matter how attentive a waiter is, they might still mess something up. We do find that to be the exception, rather than the rule, however. An extremely attentive server does tend to lead almost all of the time to a safe meal. And, of course, an unattentive server almost always leads to a reaction. No guarantees in either case, but talking to your waiter, and noticing how attentive they are, is almost always a big clue. Almost.
- If you can't ask anyone, or they're not helpful, the safest thing is usually a deli-type sandwich with no mayo or sauces (except mustard), on bread that is not rye. If you can get a side of fruit, instead of fries or a salad, that would probably be your best bet. There's no guarantees, as sometimes canola shows up in bread, but it's generally worth a shot if you're really hungry and willing/able to take that chance. Also, if you're feeling adventerous, a stir-fry at an Asian restaurant is likely going to be made with peanut or soybean oil. The thing that would be most likely to go wrong, though, would be the sauce.
- Make sure your server understands that canola oil is a type of vegetable oil. Many a time we've heard the old, “No, we don't use canola oil. Only vegetable oil,” and have had to explain that vegetable oil could very well be canola. Also make sure that they check all of the ingredients. If your server is recommending a salad as an option in case the fish is cooked in canola, then they probably don't fully understand that the oil could be an ingredient, and not just a cooking grease, as canola oil is in a lot of salad dressings, croutons, etc.
- Some citrus-flavored sodas contain bromiated vegetable oil. There's no telling what kind, but even after we knew about the allergy, my husband had a reaction or two to Mountain Dew, just because it never occurred to either of us that it would contain any oil. Stick to darker sodas, to be safe.
- If a restaurant deep fries foods in canola oil, it's possible to have a reaction without eating the oil, simply because it's in the air. If this is the case, try to sit outside, or at the furthest possible table from the deep friers.