Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Food Allergies--There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (or Breakfast)

Since I've been in an extended stay hotel for awhile now (it's the last week--hooray!), I've been thinking about the "included" breakfasts that many hotels offer to their guests.

The hotel I'm staying in offers this each day, as does other places I've stayed such as the Hampton Inn.

I've always thought that free food is a good thing, generally, especially with little kids. When they're hungry for breakfast, they're hungry NOW.

Of course, when you add food allergies to the mix, it gets a wee bit more complicated. When you're dealing with a nut allergy, baked goods are out. Also, we've had questions about the cereal served, since sometimes it's placed in clear canisters and does not have a label. By now, I know most kids' cereal ingredients by heart, but sometimes I don't. I've found that hotel staff are helpful and will let me see the cereal box if they still have it. Of course, then, I obsess about the scoop. Let's put it this way, if they were serving Reese's cereal next to the Cheerios, I'd skip cereal altogether. (This has never happened, but ya never know!)

Food allergy parents are well aware that many times we have to skip foods rather than run the risk of a reaction, but wouldn't it be nice if we could have our needs addressed in the "free breakfast" portion of our hotel stay. On the one hand, I feel like I should just handle the food myself and not ask anything of a hotel. On the other hand, we're paying customers. Food allergies are becoming an common problem. Why shouldn't we expect hotels to get clued in?

One time I stayed in a college town that offered a "Japanese breakfast" along with the rest of the more traditional fare. Clearly, this establishment had identified a group of guests with a specific food preference. It got me thinking that food allergies could be addressed in a similar fashion.

We should be able to ask for "safe zones" when partaking of the hotel breakfast. How about it? What do you think? And have any of you tried this approach?


Jennifer B said...

We'll be doing our annual summer trip and every place we stay offers these free breakfast. The foods my kids aim for are the baked goods, so I bring my own muffins and bread on the trip with me. We do a lot of picnics--it is the only way I can be sure it's safe. I think it will be a while before hotels catch up on the food allergy thing. There is some new thing at some hotels now called PURE rooms, which is interesting though not really intended for food allergic folks.

Modern Allergy Mom said...

It would be nice to be able to partake in the free breakfast. We do not travel much, but when we do I prefer to have a kitchenette. I bring the majority of my own food. It is a drag, but what else can I do?