Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Delicious and nutritious

We had to take Wheat and dairy (and spelt, rye, and pineapple) out of Moira's diet again. Just like before, it's an intestinal reaction and this is likely temporary, although our plan is to keep it our of her diet for the long term to give her the best possible chance of getting over this problem.
We don't have any problem with this at home. I make most of our food, and the few things we eat that are made with wheat or dairy have good options for her. Well, except for cheese, although she seems to like the rice cheese just fine. The problem is eating out. We love eating out, especially Moira, and there's a bunch of cuisines that are completely off the table, and while Mexican and Thai are easy to find and easy to alter for her needs, they do get boring after awhile.
Moira and I have been eating lunch together between library story time and gym class every Tuesday, and we've found a number of restaurants where everything on the kids menu is wheat based, and half of them have cheese. She'd be happy to have nothing but fries every day, but I'm not. I have been to a few places where the kid's menu has interesting choices, but they are few and far between.
I actually remember being pretty young when I started complaining about the limited selection on kid's menus. I believe my exact words were "Why are they all the same? We are at an Italian restaurant! I don't want a hamburger of mac and cheese!" My parents decided that if I was old enough to care, I was old enough to order off the adult menu.
That isn't an option for Moira yet. She eats a lot for her age, but not that much. For now, I've decided that I need to start writing letters, which means I should make templates. One as an explanation why we won't be patronizing this restaurant again, and one as a thank you for not catering to the lowest common denominator. Here is what I'm sending out to the restaurant we visited most recently.

Dear owner of the Wilde Rover,
We have loved your restaurant since we moved to Kirkland almost 3 years ago. Recently my daughter was diagnosed with an allergy to wheat and dairy, and on our last visit to your restaurant, I discovered that all the options on your kid's menu have one or both of those things in them. Because of this, we will not be able to patronize the Wilde Rover any more.
I know that it is easiest and cheapest to feed children hamburgers, fries, and chicken strips, and while I was pleased to see that you had one option on your menu that was actually an Irish meal, the Bangers and Mash have dairy in them so we could not order them. I ended up ordering the cheeseburger and fries for her without cheese or bun, but we were not offered anything to make up for the missing portion of the meal. At home, our daughter loves corned beef and cabbage, many vegetables, fruits, rice, quinoa, and many other foods. It is a shame that she cannot explore new options when we eat out.
I love it when a restaurant has multiple options for meals. Where you can pick your main course and one or two sides to go with it. Some restaurants are beginning to offer fruit, raw veggies, steamed chicken, rice, even shrimp, all of which we have ordered and my daughter has happily consumed. I am even willing to play a little more for a meal for her, if it is nutritionally complete.
We are sad to not be able to eat at your establishment anymore. If you decide to make changes to your menu to be more interesting and flexible for people with food allergies, we will be happy to come back.

Thank you for your time,
Shannon Hillinger


  1. That is a great letter. I have the same problem -- Andrew's dairy and tomato allergies make most kids' menus laughable for us, too.

  2. We are in the same boat as you know. The soy really makes it impossible to eat anywhere besides home. I really like the idea of writing a letter.

  3. It's a great letter, and I hope it makes a difference, especially at the good restaurants.

  4. I'm so sorry Moira's food troubles are back :-(