Parents of children with food allergies never really get to go on vacation. Sure, we go away from home, but it means extra planning, extra stress and more moments of feeling like “THAT parent” who is always asking for special accommodations for their child. On top of that, we’re in the habit of being hyper-aware of our surroundings. It’s hard to let your guard down.
When my husband and I decided to take our kids to Walt Disney World this past winter, it was a bit of a gamble, but I knew that Disney took food allergies seriously. Sure enough, the manager of every quick service restaurant we ate at took the time to go over our concerns and help us make educated choices. They had Life is Good brand cookies and brownies at each one, so we were never worried about his dessert coming into contact with nuts.
We had booked only one full-service meal in advance, but were able to specify our dining needs at the time of reservation. Our waiter greeted my five-year-old son directly and asked him about his food allergies. He then set out to find the chef. Upon returning, our server announced to the room that they should feel very lucky to be able to meet the chef and that they had our son to thank for the special treat. My little guy beamed from the positive attention as he and the chef discussed possible dessert choices. I tried not to cry.
I recently made a solo trip back to Disney World for a TravelingMom.com retreat. While it can be refreshing to get time away from home, it’s difficult to break out of the food allergy mom habit. And, since I knew that there were other bloggers with food allergies present, including at least one with a tree nut allergy, I still felt like I should be on alert. At one point, a server placed three entrees on our table, to be shared family-style. As a somewhat picky eater (and out of habit), I asked what was in each dish. When I heard him mention nuts in the chicken dish, I felt a moment of panic.
“There are some women here with food allergies,” I said to him in the same firm, but apologetic tone I use when talking about my son.
The waiter smiled and gestured around the room, “I have already spoken with a woman over there, there and there. Is there someone else I should know about?”
Once again, Disney put my mind at ease. I thanked him and settled in to enjoy my meal, including a delicious chicken dished garnished with nuts.
Disclosure: My solo trip was subsized by Disney. The opinions contained in this post are my own.