Whenever we venture out with food in mind, we’re ready to navigate the needs of my son and his food allergies, and seem to receive a range of replies when seeking answers. Now that my son’s put on some big kid weight (topping the scales at 84 pounds) and outgrown a wheat allergy, I see a hungry boy who knows that he needs to take caution around food and wants to know what he’s tasting before the bite. He’s been given the green light on eggs, a known allergen since he was a tiny tot, but he’s still managing a few more allergens that may never subside. This week, he ate lunch side by side with a host of other kids at an Austin day camp. Bringing lunch is always an option, but he wanted to buy lunch from the camp menu which included ZuZu, Pok-e-Jo’s, and ThunderCloud Subs, all unknown to me in terms of ingredient contents.
If you’re on the lookout for food allergens, you learn to ask questions and trust your instincts. When I called ZuZu, I spoke with three different staff members. It was worth the wait. ZuZu employees took the time to find the knowledgeable person who could answer my questions. Pok-e-Jo’s no-nonsense reply also put me at ease. And ThunderCloud Subs earned my trust and favor. I left a message at ThunderCloud and a short time later received a call from David Cohen. Not only did David provide the answers to my menu inquiries, he told me what menu selections to avoid completely to minimize any reaction possibilities. He followed that up with a personal story of a less-than-pleasant food reaction which solidified my concerns of his understanding.
Managing food allergies doesn’t necessarily get easier as children age, but with observation, older children can learn how to better manage aspects of dining out when they see adults around them check menus, research ingredients, call ahead to restaurants, and speak to the kitchen crew and managers. Kids with allergies can begin to determine the importance of walking away from a restaurant that may not be able to explain their ingredients and preparation of the food they serve.