Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Be sure to check out this video, "Eating Safely with Food Allergies," from Anaphylaxis Canada.

Hanging Out Outdoors


As the weather warms up, activities and meals tend to move outdoors, so you may find yourself invited to picnics, backyard barbecues, graduation and end-of-school parties, pool parties, and amusement parks.

How do other teens handle their food allergies at these social events? They do so by planning, by using common sense, and by being determined not to take chances with risky foods.

Picnics and Barbecues

If you'll be attending a picnic or barbecue, talk to those in charge of the food to be sure they know about your food allergy. Keep in mind that those who do not have food allergies may not be as well-versed in shopping or cooking for an allergy as you are. Offer suggestions or help with the actual shopping.

Don't assume barbecue sauce will be okay for you to eat; at least one brand of barbecue sauce lists pecans on the label! Also, be on the lookout for cooks who make their own barbecue sauce or add "secret" ingredients to store-bought brands. If you don't know all of the ingredients or if you are unsure, do not eat the sauce — avoid it.

You always have the option of bringing your own food. This way you'll know that there will be something you can safely eat. To avoid the chance of cross contact from foods prepared on the grill, consider bringing precooked foods, such as steak, chicken, or burgers. To reheat food, wrap it in aluminum foil to protect it before placing it on the grill or in an oven.

Parties

Depending on the type of party you will be attending, you may find that your food allergy may not be much of an issue. Oftentimes, parties offer a casual eating atmosphere and snack-type foods are offered. Try to fill up on safe foods before the party -- you'll be less tempted to snack later. Another option would be to arrive at the party early and offer to help set up. This will give you the opportunity to check out the labels and to serve yourself first to avoid any potential cross contact issues. If something doesn't have a label, don't eat it.

Amusement Parks

Amusement parks may present challenges to those who have food allergies. How do you plan a full day of meals and snacks? Many teens plan to take a picnic lunch packed in a cooler that they keep in the car until they are ready to eat. Most parks will allow you to leave and return, making a "car picnic" the easiest option. Call the park in advance to find out its policy.

If that plan doesn't appeal to you, you'll have to do some research before you go. Visit the website of the amusement park and look up your meal options. Most amusement parks offer restaurant names and a list of menu items. Some will list the ingredients of their menu items online; others have an ingredients list available at each restaurant. Be sure to enlist the help of the restaurant's manager and chef in selecting safe foods.

Enjoy the nice weather and continue to make smart meal choices. No matter what time of year, remember to carry your food allergy action plan, contact numbers, and medicines (e.g., antihistamines and epinephrine) at all times so that you are prepared to treat a reaction. Read the label for all foods every time, and plan ahead, when possible.

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