FAL’s 7 MUSTS for Spring Break

With Spring Break just around the corner for most people, FAL is bringing you 7 MUST KNOWS for Traveling! Enjoy 🙂

  1. AllergySmartz:
    • AllergySmartz, our food allergy travel app, is designed to help users convey their food allergies and the precautions needed for safe food preparation to restaurant staff, in the US, and abroad, despite language barriers. The App requires NO internet access, and currently features the Top 12 allergens and 12 languages to translate from and into. For more information check out: http://www.foodallergylowdown.com/AllergySmartz
    • Download it Now!
  2. Grab-N-Go Meals: Looking for a quick bite on your road trip, or just in the mood for a quick lunch? Check out posts from previous FAL Restaurant Weeks for ideas:
  3. Dining Out: Celebrating something big in the city? Looking for a nice dining experience with delicious food? Check out some #FALfavs below!
  4. Snacks for the Trip: Whether you’re taking a road trip or a 14 hour long flight food is always good company! Here are some snack ideas for the trip:
  5. Hotels: Wondering where to stay that will offer a fun and allergy-friendly experience? Check out our hotel recommendations below!
  6. In the Air:
    • Wipe! Wet Wipes are perfect for air travel – wipe down your seat belt, tray table, and remote in case there is any food residue left. This will eliminate the risk of a later, ‘unexplained’ reaction.
    • Often times Airlines will give you a hassle about carrying on a Benadryl bottle. Walgreens’ Wal-dryl is the perfect solution! Whether you are trying to combat this airline issue, want to travel light, or are just looking for more convenient options, Wal-dryl (single doses) are the way to go.
    • Bring a note from the doctor! It’s rare, but I have had an official at security tell me I could not take my Epipen on board as a carry-on item. Thankfully a doctor was in the security line and gave his authorization that I should be able to carry the life-saving drug. Next time I went to the Allergist I asked for an authorization note and always take it on trips with me. I’ve never had another encounter like this one, especially as allergy awareness grows, but I still recommend one.
  7. On the Safe Side:
    • Bring extra Epipens and make sure they are kept in the right temperature environment.
    • Just in case something goes wrong, know your nearest Emergency Room, and the local emergency number (e.g. 911)!

WOW Stories: “Le Meridien” FAL’s 3-Day Hotel Special #3

As a young girl visiting India, I was curious and wanted to delve into the wide variety of regional cuisines native to India. However, with food allergies, all the exotic ingredients, unfamiliar dishes were both exciting and intimidating.

Together we did research and all votes went to Le Meridien, Windsor Place, New Delhi.


The WOW Story!!

My experience at the Le Meridien in New Delhi was very positive.

Their dynamic, creative, and dedicated team left no stone unturned in making it the best possible experience for me.

As always I had exchanged mail with the General Manager and the Executive Chef regarding my food allergies, beforehand.

At check-in we were told that the Executive Chef would come up to the room shortly, to discuss at length the specifics about allergy safe dining at Le Meridien.

I knew we were off to a great start.

Over the course of my stay, some things that he pointed out reflected how well versed he was in handling food allergies.

He said that he would personally cook all my meals while I was there. As an added precaution all the other team members in the kitchen would be briefed too.

In discussing the dinner options for the night, he said that the restaurant gets very busy on Saturday nights.

It was Saturday night and the main restaurant was very busy he recommended in room dining. The reason was to limit the possibility of a mix up while serving in the restaurant.

I enjoyed some authentic chicken and lamb dishes with an array of Indian breads, personally delivered by him.

LM Room Service

My bread was not served in a traditional bread basket. He pointed out that while the baskets are washed and sanitized each time, he did not want to risk any sort of residue from exotic breads with nuts and therefore my breads were served in a glass basket.

I was amazed at his insightfulness and creativity.

The magic of spices, the aroma of the exotic cuisine was nothing short of a scintillating food experience!!

For breakfast he invited us to the restaurant. I asked if he could make nut free chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes.

LM Breakfast

As we sat down to eat, he stopped by and rearranged my place setting. As a precaution, he removed my table mat, “just in case of any prior residue” he said.

He also removed the forks, knife etc. that were placed on the mat, and replaced them with new ones that he put on a plate.

These small gestures spoke volumes about his allergy awareness.

Just to reassure me that there were no nuts or possible contamination he showed us the label on the chocolate chips.

Small acts like this have such a huge impact on dining out with food allergies. I would have asked to check the label, but the spontaneity was what made me smile.

Peacock is the national bird of India…and there it was…majestic and beautiful coffee art on my cup of coffee.

LM Peakock COffee Art.jpg

We were out for the rest of the day and returned late. I noticed a piece of cheesecake with a note next to it. It was Indian Independence Day and he had made for me a NUT FREE CHEESECAKE. Saffron, white and green are the colors of the Indian flag. The note read “We have made this NUT FREE cheesecake for you in celebration of the Indian Independence Day!”

LM Dessert

This was the legendary Indian hospitality I had read about.

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handled. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

**We hope you enjoyed the final installment of FAL’s 3-Day “WOW Stories” Special about Allergy-Friendly Hotels. Our next post will be out next WEDNESDAY at 4:00 PM EST! Stay Tuned!

WOW Stories: “The Hilton” FAL’s 3-Day Hotel Special #2

Over the course of many years I have stayed at The Hilton and their franchises several times, in the US, Hawaii and at three of their international locations:

  • Hilton Niagara Falls – Canada
  • Hilton London Heathrow Airport – United Kingdom
  • Hilton Jumeirah Beach- Dubai.

When staying at a hotel overseas I strongly recommend emailing the General Manager and the Executive Chef prior to arrival. Occasionally you will even see the hotel suggest this:

“If you have a delicate allergy and need more information or support from the hotel, please contact us in advance of your stay.”

In my experience the chefs at the Hilton Restaurants are experienced in preparing meals with special dietary guidelines.

At the three international locations that I stayed at, I found them to be very knowledgeable, accommodating and most importantly proactive with regards to food allergies. It seemed standard for the following statement to appear on the menu, but what was remarkable is their competence in executing the precautions:

Please note that some of our dishes may contain traces of nuts. For guests with special dietary requirements of allergies who may want to know about the food ingredients used, please ask a member of the restaurant team.


 The WOW Story!!


While visiting the Big Island of Hawaii I dreamt of an exhilarating, experience under the magical Hawaiian night sky, swaying palms, music, hula dancers – an experience that would heighten the senses- a Luau.

The catch however was that a big part of the Luau is in the indulgence of a Hawaiian feast – a buffet that is filled with an array of Pan-Pacific food.

I did my research. The Legends of Hawaii Luau at the Hilton Waikoloa Village seemed the best fit.

Prior to making reservations for the Luau I spoke to the Executive Chef. We reviewed the dietary restrictions and the necessary precautions. He promised me a safe and memorable experience.

When we arrived at the Luau, he came and greeted us.

He had prepared a multi course meal. It was a Hawaiian- American combination of some traditional island dishes and some continental fare. He pointed out that the Kalua Pig was safe to eat.

Experiencing the individual flavors and aromas of the food while watching the Hula Kahiko performers beneath the mid-Pacific skies was an unforgettable experience!

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handled. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

**We hope you enjoyed the second installment of FAL’s 3-Day “WOW Stories” Special about Allergy-Friendly Hotels. The final installment will be out TOMORROW at 4:00 PM EST! Stay Tuned!


WOW Stories: “The Westin” FAL’s 3-Day Hotel Special #1

Sharing positive experiences of dining at hotel restaurants with international chains has the power to inspire, motivate and reinforce the efforts of the staff. Recognizing a chef who offered an exemplary dining experience sends more travelers with special dietary needs to the hotel chain.

As a world traveler with tree nut allergies I always exchange emails with the hotel’s General Manager and Executive Chef prior to my arrival (I highly recommend this).

My experiences at many locations of The Westin both domestic and abroad have been delightful.

The WOW Story!!

I arrived at The Westin at 2:00 AM local time, after a long international flight. I was thrilled to be greeted at check-in by the Head Chef. We sat down, and he made a note of all the dietary restrictions, cross contamination issues, etc.

He then had the concierge enter the information into their system. This alerted all the kitchen staff on EVERY shift.

The next morning, at breakfast, when the hostess sat me down, she informed the Executive Chef of my arrival.

The Executive Chef made an extra effort to make himself available at all times and personally took responsibility for every meal. He enquired and reassured me that he would personally cook those exotic dishes on the menu, while keeping them allergy safe, as he wanted me to enjoy the various cuisines.

As a backup a chef was assigned just for me, on every shift.

The entire team, especially the food service folks were friendly, helpful and inviting.

Every meal was a legendary experience.

As someone with tree nut allergies the huge array of delicious desserts are usually off limits. Seeing the chef’s passion to rise to the challenge and his demonstrated experience over my week long stay, I even got to enjoy the sublime texture and glorious flavor of some exotic desserts.

I came back with a deep sense of gratitude for that personal touch that made my stay at The Westin, Gurgaon, India a unique, positive and memorable experience!

Disclaimer: As always, be sure to communicate your allergies to the restaurant staff to the extent that YOU are comfortable with the way they are handled. For guidance in this matter we recommend our App, AllergySmartz.

**We hope you enjoyed the first installment of FAL’s 3-Day “WOW Stories” Special about Allergy-Friendly Hotels. The second installment will be out TOMORROW at 4:00 PM EST! Stay Tuned!




Planning a Vacation? Download AllergySmartz!

Spring Break vacations coming up? Planning your next vacation?

Don’t forget to download our App, AllergySmartz before your next trip! AllergySmartz is a mobile app for iPhone and Android designed to help communicate food allergies/precautions needed for safe food preparation to restaurant staff here, and abroad.

AllergySmartz currently features the top 12 allergens (milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, legumes/pulses, tree nut, fish, shellfish: mollusks, shellfish: crustaceans, mustard, and sesame) and 13 languages to translate the allergy warning statements into (English, Japanese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Hindi, French, Arabic, Russian, Hungarian, German, Bahasa Indonesian, and Italian). 

AllergySmartz allows users to indulge in international cuisine and feel comfortable trying new foods by overcoming language barriers to communicate safety precautions about food allergies to chefs, in a variety of languages. Furthermore, AllergySmartz can be used anywhere on the globe – it requires NO internet access!

Don’t forget to download AllergySmartz on the iTunes or Google Play Store TODAY! Enjoy and indulge in your next vacation 🙂

Google Play: https://goo.gl/qM0ZZ9
iTunes: https://goo.gl/dsti2N

AllergySmartz App Update!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Exciting News: A new version of AllergySmartz with more languages is now available on iTunes and Google Play! Check it out!

iTunes: https://goo.gl/4sJX6O
Google Play: https://goo.gl/0HxAzn

Please see my previous post for more details – http://goo.gl/kSJdAS.

Update to AllergySmartz, Food Allergy App!

New Language added to AllergySmartz! Japanese is now available!

AllergySmartz, as many of you already know, is an App I have designed and developed to help travelers with food allergies convey their food allergies and the precautions needed for safe food allergy preparation, in different languages, to restaurant staff in foreign countries.

The App was originally released with 10 languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Hungarian, and Bahasa Indonesian.

I have just added another language – Japanese! The updated version is NOW AVAILABLE on the Google Play Store and iTunes store.

Google Play: https://goo.gl/qM0ZZ9
iTunes: https://goo.gl/dsti2N

Please check it out and let me know what other languages, allergens, features you’d like added!

Vacation Series #3: International Travel

While both the 911 response and the ER protocol are uniform within the USA, things can be different in other countries. Please research ahead of your arrival to a new country/place about contingency management for an allergic reaction.

Research, research, research! Before you leave, look up typical cuisines popular in the country you are visiting. Gather background regarding which foods tend to contain your allergen. If you know a cuisine or category of dishes relies heavily on your allergen, avoid ordering from that category. Don’t be afraid to ask! In most cases, people are very understanding and don’t want to be responsible for an allergic reaction. They want to help! If not, it’s probably not a safe environment as they aren’t taking your allergy seriously. If you don’t feel comfortable ordering from the list of exotic dishes on the menu, ask for a special order and order a meal you feel comfortable with. AND… use AllergySmartz – a great way to communicate food allergies and safety precautions when there is a language barrier!

Most importantly, don’t forget your allergy and emergency protocol! (Take your emergency medicine, call 911’s equivalent, and go the hospital immediately!) Don’t feel intimidated and enjoy the trip!

Vacation Series #2: Airplanes!

If you plan to fly, I recommend you carry a note from your allergist making it perfectly clear that it is necessary you be allowed to carry your emergency medication on the flight.

As allergy awareness becomes more prevalent, cases where staff have harassed passengers for trying to take their medication on the plane are decreasing, but are still present. Always be on the safe side! You don’t want to expose yourself to unnecessary risk because your emergency medication was confiscated.

Pro Tip: With new restrictions on carrying liquids, I recommend taking Walgreens’ single dose Wal-dryl. Wal-dryl is diphenhydramine (the same medicine as Benadryl) except easier to carry.


Wal-dryl Single Dose

Vacations Series #1: General Travel Tips

*Hi everyone! This is the first post of my “vacation series.” Stay tuned for more!*

It’s summer! Whether you’re driving down to the beach for a weekend, or flying across the world, it’s important to be careful and make sure others are cautious of your allergies.

Once you arrive enjoy your trip but continue to follow the safety procedures you do back home! At restaurants, be sure to inform your waiter as well as a manager and/or chef of your food allergy. Go with your gut – if the environment seems safe, and the staff is clear on how to handle your allergy it’s probably fine to eat there.

Pro Tip: Remind the restaurant staff to be careful of cross-contamination. Tell them to use clean equipment (pans, spatulas, new gloves). Emphasize that new oil be used for frying and that no pre-marinated foods or pre-made sauces are used.

Pro Tip #2: Use AllergySmartz – our great App to help travelers communicate their allergies to restaurant staff effectively (even when there is a language barrier)!

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid a reaction on your vacation. However, if you start to feel symptoms of an allergic reaction, follow your allergy protocol (take your emergency medicine), call 911 (or its equivalent), and go the hospital immediately! In order to ensure your safety don’t wait it out to see if it resolves itself – get to the ER and let trained medical professionals handle the situation!

Don’t feel intimidated or anxious, most people have an extremely enjoyable trip even with allergies!