Help! I Need Advice on Eating Away From Home With Food Allergies

updated May 24, 2019
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Q: I was recently diagnosed with a slew of food allergies. Cooking has become a challenge, but I’m managing and am being very much a control freak about what I eat. But I’m facing a big family get-together in a rented vacation home with my in-laws and at this point, I don’t want to go because of my food allergies.

We’re talking 10 people for one week in a house with a kitchen with big family dinners, and Grandma doing most of the cooking and baking. Doing all the cooking and shopping myself seems out of the question, and I know they wouldn’t eat what I eat. They are big on starches and processed shortcuts, and my allergies include chicken, beef, shellfish, most wheat/grains, and tomatoes.

Do you or your readers have any advice on how to handle this? At this point I’m so lost (and stressed out) about what to do I’m thinking about canceling. I could handle one meal or even one weekend, but unfortunately that’s not an option. What do others do when they have severe dietary restrictions but need to travel for an extended period? What’s a nice way to tell people that everything they make you can’t eat?

Sent by Lisa

Editor: Lisa, that is a tough situation. As a hostess, I know I would want to accommodate any dietary restrictions my guests might have, so it is worth speaking openly to your in-laws about your allergies. You might find they are happy to plan out meals that can be tweaked to fit your needs, or that have some overlap with what you can eat so you can safely eat the two side dishes, for example, but prepare your own main dish. That being said, you will probably end up relying on whatever your diet’s version of peanut butter sandwiches is for at least a couple meals — but I don’t think the prospect of that should make you write off a vacation with your family entirely.

Readers, do you have any advice for dealing with severe dietary restrictions while traveling?