When my son was a baby, Jan Gambino of PAGER (Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association) met with us at a McDonald’s restaurant. At that time, Ben’s food allergies and acid reflux were so bad, we didn’t know what to order. Jan was a huge help and explained, “the best thing to order for awhile may be just some ice that he can move around on his tray.”
Years have since passed, and our son still has food allergies and acid reflux, but he is no longer content with just ice. As a result, we had to figure out what we can order for him when we do eat out - especially at fast food places. Having at least one food choice at each place will allow your family to still get out once and a while, and may teach your child what is safe when he is out on his own. Obviously, your list may look different based on your needs, but the following is a list of what works for us
- McDonalds. I order, “Grilled chicken, plain, with a small order of fries.”
- Chinese Take Out. “Steamed chicken, no sauce, and steamed white rice.”
- Smoothie Shops. “Banana/honey smoothie and do you mind using this milk?” (I provide the rice milk in a small carton).
- Food Court at the Mall - the Japanese place. “Large bowl of steamed rice with duck sauce on the side.”
- Kentucky Fried Chicken. “Chicken breast.” (I remove the coating).
- Snow Cone Stands. “Just the snow.” (I put Ben’s juice on top).
- Pizza shops. (We bring our own for Ben wrapped in foil, and ask if they would mind putting it in their oven when they put ours in. They have always said, “no problem.”)
- Convenient stores such as Wawa or Royal Farms. “Turkey from the deli, Lays potato chips, a banana from the stand of fruit and a bottle of water.”
- Subway. “Just turkey, no bread, potato chips, and water.”
If you are willing, here is an assignment: Take a few minutes and write a list of food places where you would like your family member with acid reflux to visit. Then add what you could order. Keep this list with you, and the next time you are out, pull out your list, drive in, and order away.
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.