Food Allergies on the Go
School, homework, sports, club activities, hanging out with friends ... sometimes it's a wonder that there is any time left at all to eat! To help you with your busy schedule, here are a few tips for filling up on the go.
Most likely, there will be days when you're running late—plan for it! Stock your kitchen with breakfast foods that can be easily carried, such as individually wrapped homemade muffins, safe commercially prepared toaster pastries, or cereal bars. If you like smoothies for breakfast, try pouring them into travel coffee mugs.
Combat the "Bag Lunch Blues" by enlisting the help of your family and friends to create a list of creative lunch ideas. Consider starting a family contest—whoever comes up with the most unusual (but tasty!) sack lunch will get his or her lunch packed for a week. Give sandwiches a new twist by replacing bread with flour or corn tortillas—wrap them up and seal with a toothpick or cover with aluminum foil so your wraps will keep their shape. Turn last night's dinner into today's lunch and pack into a disposable plastic container.
Many students look for a quick bite to eat after school to energize themselves before club meetings or team practices. Rather than relying on a local fast-food restaurant or a vending machine (usually you can't read the ingredients of a food until after you buy it), keep a safe snack in your locker, car, or backpack. Keep homemade trail mix in individually sized sandwich bags in your pantry at home, ready to grab on your way out the door. Pack crackers or other snacks in airtight containers and store them in your gym bag or glove compartment. By making sure you always have a safe snack within reach, you'll be less tempted to take risks when you're hungry.
If you're in a rush to eat and decide to grab something from a restaurant, don't rely on menu descriptions to determine "safe" items.
Don't assume that because a food was safe the last time you ate at a restaurant, it will always be safe. Ingredients can change daily in food service establishments. If you're in a rush and are tempted to rely on menu descriptions to determine "safe" items, remind yourself that having a reaction will really slow you down. Always ask about ingredients and cooking methods. If you don't explain your food allergy to restaurant personnel, you put yourself at risk for having a reaction, and that would really slow you down.
Finally, no matter how pressed for time you might be, always take a minute to read the ingredient statement carefully. With the passage of the new labeling law, you may notice ingredient changes on several foods that were okay for you to eat in the past. Good luck!