I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have food allergies. Growing up with multiple food allergies is definitely a struggle, especially when one of my allergies, egg, is in SO many foods. I went to birthday parties and I’d DREAD the part where the cake comes out. I knew I could not eat it and my mom always prepared me by making sure I had special cookies or some type of snack to eat on hand when everyone else got to eat the normal “cake.” I am grateful I was able to eat my own snack when everyone ate food I could not. However, as I grew up, it got harder eating out at restaurants is such a social activity and the “thing to do” with friends in our society. People get so excited to go to new places to try out because the food “looks good.” You don’t realize how often it happens unless you have food allergies. Getting diagnosed with celiac during college really changed things too. Going out to eat at restaurants caused way more anxiety than ever before. The social experience of eating fast food late at night and going to just any restaurant and hoping for the best felt taken away. I was so used to watching people eat foods that I couldn’t, but it was still so hard and I felt isolated. In the past few years, I’ve been able to manage eating out better. I do research on restaurants in advance and use apps/websites such as AllergyEats, Find Me Gluten-Free, and Spokin. Calling the restaurant ahead of time to see how they are with food allergies is another helpful tip. When going out to eat and traveling, I always have my list of food allergies to show the waiter. I learned the hard way that it is important to try to talk to the actual chef or manager of a restaurant too. Some waiters aren’t as aware of ingredients in foods and that caused me an allergic reaction just a few months ago. I used to be ashamed and embarrassed talking to waiters in restaurants in front of friends or even family. I’d be so quiet and that never helped. Now I just turn it into something funny that I have to do by asking “well now that you see this long list, what can I eat?” while still making sure they’re aware of how serious the food allergies are. I mean you’re talking to a girl with the Top 7 out of 8 food allergies. Once I find a restaurant I don’t get sick at, I never stop going (Example: Chipotle and Taco Dumbo in NYC). No matter what happens, remember to never stop advocating for yourself and for everyone else with food allergies.