My Story ……….
It wasn’t until our son was born nearly 10 years ago that our world turned upside down and was forced to learn very quickly about the food allergy world. He was born premature and literally every week he would come down with the next sickness. His immunity was low and we were regular visitors in the local hospital’s paediatric ward. On top of this he couldn’t keep any of his milk down, he was covered from head to toe in eczema and was generally very unwell. I knew it was a dairy allergy but it took such a long time to convince the healthcare professionals, we were made to feel that we were wrong. When we did eventually go for tests, we were not expecting what came next. Not only did our little boy have a dairy allergy, he also had allergies to soya, wheat, egg, avocado, banana’s, nuts, lentils, the list went on. White fish wasn’t tested for so we learnt that one the hard way a few months later at 8 months old, when he went into anaphylaxis and turned blue and floppy in my arms. – very, very, scary! It’s been a long journey for us as a family, we’ve had to educate ourselves and then become teachers to friends and family.
I’m pleased to say that the UK is becoming more educated around food allergies. Nine years ago, there was virtually nothing you could buy in the supermarket and eating out was not a risk we were prepared to take. Even when we found somewhere we thought he could eat, he would quite often have a reaction to something because the proper precautions around allergies weren’t taken seriously and cross contamination was rife. Fast forward to now and we have new laws and regulations in place where restaurant owners have been forced to name allergens on their menus, to cater for allergy sufferers in the right way. Despite these positive changes, it’s still tough living with allergies. We cannot eat out without calling ahead and ensuring the restaurant can cater to his complex needs. Sometimes we have to take some of his food with us because there is nothing on the menu he can have, more so when it comes to desserts. This is where Allergy Diner was born!
Allergy Diner …….
The principle behind Allergy Diner is very simple. One centralised location for everyone to rate their local restaurants or those niche allergy friendly places that are ‘great finds’. A directory we can all use, making eating out so much easier. We can share our own real-world experiences among the allergy community, good or bad, helping to identify those restaurants that are able to cater for allergies and those that can’t.
With an easy to use website, you can search for restaurants across the UK and read their reviews. If you can’t find a restaurant, you can easily add one, then rate it!
There is also a travel blog. We know far too well how finding a hotel that can cater for allergies is just as difficult and nerve racking, with the thought you may have 2 weeks where there is literally nothing you can eat. For the first few years of my son’s life our only option was self-catering and a suitcase full of “freefrom, long-life” food. Times are changing and there are lots of hotels that can now cater for allergies, inside as well as outside of the UK. Stay tuned and check out my Travel Blog for more on this!
It is estimated that around 2 million of us in the UK have some kind of allergy and the numbers are growing. Something needs to be done to change the mindset of the restaurant industry. Eating out in any establishment should never be a problem for anyone. Allergy Diner will only work with our input as a community. I truly believe if we work together, then we can achieve something great!