Eating out, not left out

February 17, 2016 | Posted by CIET Team in
  • Allergy Ambassadors
  • News, views & articles
| No Comments
Rachel B, Can I Eat There? Allergy Ambassador, allergy mum extraordinaire and FABED editor

Rachel B, Can I Eat There? Allergy Ambassador, allergy mum extraordinaire and FABED editor

Rachel B has a son with a rare inflammatory bowel disease (EGID) and multiple food allergies. Her moving and inspirational blog, 7 Years to Diagnosis, tracks their journey as a family before and after diagnosis. In addition to being a mother of two and a part-time accountant, Rachel is also editor of magazine, which raises awareness of Eosinophilic conditions and supports families living with the condition. Amazingly, Rachel also finds time to be an active Can I Eat There? Allergy Ambassador, posting reviews whenever they eat out. She recently published this blog in support of Can I Eat There? and the importance of “allergy peer” reviews when choosing where to eat out on a restricted diet. Thanks for the support, Rachel!

Over the years, Mike and I have tried to nurture a growing passion for good food in both G and M, very much based on our own love of food, eating out and experiences of a variety of culinary delights from around the world. M has become a real foodie and has never been afraid to try something new, be it oysters at age 4 or E028 at age 9! Whether it’s because of the lengthy presence of T1D in my own life, or due to identifying food allergies in G from an early age, we have never been afraid to go into a restaurant and challenge their menu options to make sure there’s food there that we can all eat and enjoy. Not everyone is as confident in making these demands and I frequently see requests for ideas for safe restaurants in the many FB forums that cover the topic of food allergies. These anxious parents trust the experiences of others in the same shoes and appreciate the advice that is so freely and gladly given; but what do they do when there’s no-one else on-line to share their tips or with the knowledge at their fingertips? Up until recently, the answer was probably to wait it out, especially if they were too nervous to step out of their comfort zone and give somewhere a try, but thanks to a fellow allergy Mum, last March an amazing new website was launched to help the allergy world share their experiences and highlight restaurants that really can cater for food allergies.

Rachel's daughter G and son M, who has been fed through a tube for the last 18 months and has a diet that allows 5 different ingredients - but still manages to eat out thanks to those restaurants who are prepared to go the extra mile.

Rachel’s daughter G and her brother M, raising awareness of EGID and tube-feeding. M wore a feeding tube for over 12 months and has gradually managed to tolerate a solid diet of just 5 different ingredients – but still manages to eat out thanks to those restaurants who are prepared to go the extra mile.

Can I Eat There? is the brain child of Nicky Granger, whose young son, Gabriel, lives with 9 severe food allergies. Nicky and her fantastic team, who have an impressive amount of allergy experience between them, have set up a website that gives “…people with food allergies the information they need to make sensible choices about where to eat. Like menus you can filter by allergy. Customer reviews from other people with food allergies. Forums for chatting and sharing experiences and advice. And the opportunity to put your questions and concerns to our expert partners…” – a completely new venture that is unlike anything else I have seen out there and that really answers a growing need.

The premise is simple: the initial search engine on the site allows you to enter your location and then apply any filters you wish from a choice of: allergy, cuisine, rating, dietary or allergy awards, to suit your individual needs. Once these have been selected, the results are brought up, showing all restaurants in your chosen area that meet your requirements. At the most basic level, the restaurants listed will provide information about the restaurant type, the food offered and which food allergies they feel they can cater to. Some will have provided the CIET? team with a more detailed menu as well as full contact details and their website.

What makes this website so fantastic in my opinion, is the ability for users to add their own reviews and experiences of the restaurants listed and give them a star rating for their attitude to catering for food allergies. These reviews are easily accessible under each restaurant’s listing and give the anxious diner an honest review of just how well the restaurant managed to meet someone else’s needs. This really is a unique resource for families living with food allergies and one that I hope will continue to go from strength to strength. The success of the website is, of course, dependent on not only spreading the word that it exists, but also encouraging people to take the time to add their thoughts and reviews about the restaurants they’ve visited, goldstarsespecially if they would recommend them to others or, indeed, warn other food allergy sufferers against going there. Needless to say, as soon as I first heard about CIET?, I contacted Nicky to find out how I could become involved with her new venture and am proud to be one of the allergy ambassadors and partners delighted to be working with CIET? as much as I can. It really is a 5-star website and I wish them every success for the future.