Explain Food Allergies to Your Waiter

I’m going to show you my best trick for explaining allergies to a waiter quickly - watch the video below or just read along here. If you’d like to download a whole list of ideas for how to avoid getting “hangry” while out socializing with friends, use the link down below the video.

Now, here’s what I’ve done that works really well: I write down my allergies on something that I can give to the waiter. If you have a business card with a blank side, or a scrap of paper, or even a pre-printed card that lists your allergies, you can let the waiter take it with him when he goes to talk to the kitchen staff about your food! This makes it super easy for your waiter to remember your allergies and it ensures the kitchen staff will have the correct information, no matter how busy and distracted everyone is.

What should you write down? Two pieces of information are essential for each dietary restriction you have: what the item is that you need to avoid and how sensitive you are to that item. My sensitivity level is extreme for all 3 of my allergies, so I can list them all together like this: Allergies: Gluten, Corn, Soy. Sensitivity: Very highly sensitive; reacts to trace amounts. The kitchen doesn’t need to know what symptoms I have when I'm having a reaction, they need to know whether it’s necessary to scrub down the area of the kitchen where my food is prepared, or if they can simply omit the offending food from my plate. Someone with lactose intolerance who orders apple pie, hold the ice cream can have a slice of apple pie from the kitchen with no extra attention required, but someone with a milk allergy that includes sensitivity to butter would require very different treatment, with a much higher level of attention to detail. The kitchen simply needs to know which scenario is at hand.

With all of that said, I feel I must remind you that you are the person who must live with the consequences if a mistake is made anywhere from preparing your food to serving it. Waiters, hosts, chefs, and other staff are all humans who are apt to make mistakes, just as you are. If you are comfortable taking that risk, then make your best effort to communicate clearly with your waiter and enjoy your night out. If you'd rather not risk it, then come up with a plan to do something that's just as much fun but significantly less risk. Don't stay home and miss out on the chance to socialize! With a little extra planning, you can go out and have a great time.