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Eating Out

Dating & Allergies 101

Dating Eating OutThinkstock: ridofranz

For your own health, you can’t be shy about your food allergies or gluten sensitivities. Allergic Living helps you broach the topic, right from the first date.


  • Always carry emergency medications in a purse or a ‘man bag,’ including at least one epinephrine auto-injector (though preferably two), and some Benadryl or  Zyrtec [Reactine].
  • Always wear a medical ID bracelet. There are now a vast range of trendy or elegant styles. MedicAlert even has ones Swarvoski crystals and pearls for women.
  • Carry your doctor’s phone number; have an app on your smartphone with your medical information.
  • For longer outings, have safe snacks in your bag.


  • Be upfront from the start with a new date, explaining your allergies or intolerance. Make it clear that you have some dietary restrictions that have to be followed – either food allergies or celiac disease are serious conditions. Handled carelessly, the former could lead to a trip to the ER. Stress that, when you abide by your avoidance practices, your condition is completely manageable.
    Social Factor [SF]: Don’t put the dating partner in the position of reserving at a great restaurant, and then you have to turn down the invitation.
  • Suggest early dating ideas without food: a concert, movie, sports event, art exhibit or going hiking, skating, skiing or indoor rock climbing. Or meet some place that you know for drinks.
    SF: Dates outside of the standard dinner date can be unique, memorable. You’ll get to make the point that you can have a great time, you simply have to be careful with food.
  • Let the person know, early on, what to do in an allergic emergency. Make it clear that if you seem to be reacting, you’ve got to have the auto-injector; then 911 needs to be called. Show the auto-injector, demonstrate how it is used, stress that it needs to be used promptly.
    SF: People can be initially concerned by the “big needle”. Assure the person that it’s a great relief from a reaction, that the discomfort is minimal.
  • If looking for a companion on a dating site, why not mention food allergies or celiac?
    SF: Could be intriguing to a foodie who likes to cook.


  • In the early going, if you’re eating out, be the one to suggest the restaurant. Have a list of safe spots that you like and whose kitchens you know to be vigilant about food safety and avoiding cross-contact. It’s good to be aware of a few restaurants in different areas of town. Then if you’re out for a walk and he (or she) suggests stopping for dinner, you have a name.
    SF: Allergy-aware kitchens tend to have progressive kitchens, and that usually means good food.
  • For later dates, when he or she suggests a new eatery, phone ahead and question the chef or manager about the menu, making sure there are dishes safe for you, and that the kitchen is mindful of cross-contamination.
    SF: By checking, there will be no embarrassing “we can’t eat here” scenes.
  • Be judicious with wine and alcohol, so you don’t drop your own guard around food. If you’re a teen, avoid wine, liquor and drugs, period. While anaphylaxis is not something you want to encounter, even worse would be encountering it in a compromised state.
  • For a subsequent date, preparing a meal at your place is a great way to have a romantic evening and be safe all at the same time. Learn how to cook a few easy dishes.


  • Go out with people who aren’t nervous around your allergies or intolerance. On the flipside, avoid people who constantly make jokes about your condition. You won’t find it funny at all.
  • Be willing to say “no”.
    SF: If someone is cavalier about your food needs at the wooing stage, the outlook isn’t good.
  • The mood is getting flirty and relaxed? Great, but if you haven’t already, now’s the time to sashay into the topic of kissing precautions – and that it can be risky to kiss someone who has been eating nuts (if you’re nut allergic). So you ask: anything you’ve eaten today that contains nuts?
    SF: If you handle it right and he hasn’t eaten anything nut-laden foods, you could boost the romantic tension.
  • SF: If he (or she) really is “that into you,” he’ll probably gladly give up a food – not just for a day – to please you.

Originally published in Allergic Living magazine.
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