This post was sponsored by DineSafe, but the following are my own opinions on the app.
Dining out when you have food allergies – or even sensitivities – can range from impossible to headache-worthy. And sometimes both.
Maybe you’ve been here before…
After waiting for 45 minutes you are finally seated, only to be handed a menu that you now must carefully scan for options that fit your very specific dietary needs. Much of it is a guessing game as you sort through each category, mentally crossing off anything that might contain your food enemy.
20 minutes later and somewhat (if not entirely) defeated, you make the decision to play it safe with a salad. Without the dressing, cheese, croutons, or seeds. You’ll dress it yourself with a side of olive oil and the salt and pepper from the table. Your stomach will thank you later.
You’ve created an item that works for you. And you know what? That makes you happy indeed. You’re pretty used to this. And you conquered that menu like a champ!
This menu adaptation game has been my story countless times. In my years of battling illness, I’ve seen my bestie food friends drop like flies as I’ve taken on some necessary diet changes to protect and support my health: gluten, dairy, soy, and lastly: most grains. (I KNOW. Cue the weeping).
For a foodie it can be a mournful loss that becomes even harder to cope with when the search to find restaurants YOU CAN ACTUALLY EAT AT leaves a girl spinning in circles.
Wouldn’t it be great if someone could cut out the work for us in searching a menu for safe foods? To remove that headache I mentioned a bit ago?
Guys. There’s a new app that does just that.
Enter: the DineSafe App.
DineSafe’s goal is to improve the dining experience for those of us with specific dietary needs, as well as help restaurants connect with diners who need safe options.
After reading up on all the app offers, I downloaded the app to explore it myself.
This app makes it so-super-easy to create your very own personalized menu. You simply tap once on any allergen or special diets you follow and it’s automatically saved in your profile.
One of my favorite parts?
There is NO LIMIT on how many allergens you can add to your list!
This is a revelation for those of us with multiple allergies or sensitivities: no more hunting through menus and product lists when the work has already been done for you!
So just how many allergens are available?
There’s a total of 24 including various meats, vegetables, gluten and ingredients like Sulphates or MSG.
Even better is the ability to select from 8 different diets ON TOP OF whatever food allergies you may have. Paleo and Vegan users, rejoice!
Here’s a sample of some of the allergens and diets you can choose from. I spy with my little eye a little something called Organic…(!!!)
For restaurants, this app is a great way to connect with individuals and families who look for menus that will cater to their restrictive diets and clearly list allergens.
Restaurants can easily enter in their own menu on the app, detailing current offerings, ingredients and allergen information.
I love that this leaves any guessing out for me as the user as to whether the menu showing is up-to-date and/or accurate. I am much more likely to trust the menu they release over anyone else.
With the United States estimate of 15 million people affected by food allergies, this is a great time for restaurants to get ahead of any upcoming laws regulating allergen disclosure. Europe and the UK already have their own regulations in place, requiring mandatory allergen information for all of their menu items.
I can’t ignore that it’s also a great way to play a part in changing the landscape of the dining world for those with sensitivities. We will all thank you!
You can easily locate restaurants near you using the built-in GPS feature. Once you have chosen a restaurant you can then scroll through the menu using the “filter menu” option which will apply your current diet settings.
The app then allows you to find menu items that are safe, ones to avoid and even a list of items that can be modified to fit your specific diet.
Because this app is on the newer side they are still growing their restaurant list.
One way we can help is by endorsing and submitting petitions for restaurants in our area. If we find a restaurant that offers items catered to our specific diet requirements, endorsing their menu helps other diners with the same restrictions know it is a safe place to eat.
We can also look up restaurants in our area and start (or sign an existing) petition, requesting that they upload their menu to DineSafe (which is free!) detailing any allergens to be aware of.
It’s really a win-win for both restaurant and user – the user locates a restaurant with food items they can have and the restaurant increases its reach!
I’ve already started some petitions for some restaurants in my new home town and have signed a couple of existing ones. It’s such a great, tangible way to encourage restaurants to get on board!
If you’d like to check out DineSafe, you can download the app for free on both iPhone or Android. It only takes a few seconds to install and a couple minutes to set up your personalized menu and you’re done!
Super easy and you’re on your way to fewer menu-searching-induced-headaches and more restaurants to enjoy.
If you have food allergies, a sensitivity or if you follow a special diet – do you have a favorite restaurant in your area that goes out of their way to cater to your needs? Try finding them on DineSafe to give them a shout out!
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