‘No outside food or drink’ signs become a mere suggestion when you have food allergies. Fairly often, these signs are used to encourage people to purchase the food and drinks sold at that location (perhaps a movie theater, sporting event, you name it). But how are those of us who have food allergies supposed to be confident that we can find something safe for us to eat at these places?
This happens all the time at movie theaters. I’ll give the staff person my ticket, and then on the way to the theater, my friends will stop at the concession stand to buy their popcorn, candy, and soda. And I will stand there awkwardly, and possibly buy a water. Then there will be the inevitable “Don’t you want something more to eat?” and the response from another friend explaining that I can’t eat food because I’m allergic. It then becomes tricky for my friends, because they feel bad eating in front of me during the movie when I don’t have any food of my own. (I try to reassure them that I am used to it and that I don’t mind at all). And so, in order to avoid this situation, I started bringing my own food. This introduced a new dilemma: the “No Outside Food Or Drink” sign. I cannot waltz into the movie theater with a giant tub of popcorn and a large soda. Here, I have two options. I can show the person taking tickets my epinephrine and explain my food allergies and politely ask if they would mind if I brought in my own snack. (They will probably say yes. It is probably safe to say that they will always say yes.) Movie theaters can get pretty busy though, and the staff there may not want to deal with your dietary restrictions. In this case, you can probably get away with bringing a large purse or a shopping bag with some snacks in it, and neglect to tell anyone. (Shhh… you didn’t hear this from me.) After all, they are mostly trying to make a profit. If it is impossible for you to safely eat their food, it doesn’t matter if you bring your own snack as opposed to not eating anything.
While I used a movie theater to discuss this dilemma, it happens everywhere. When the issue arises the best bet is to be honest and tell people about your allergies. 99% of the time, it is ten times easier to tell whomever it may concern about you allergies and asking if an exception to the No Outside Food Policy can be made for you due to extenuating circumstances. So if you are madly studying for final exams and need a break, or are eagerly awaiting Pitch Perfect 2‘s arrival in theaters, don’t forget to pack a bag of candy as you head out.