One of the hardest things about feeding an intolerant child is that you cannot just pick up a snack when you are out and about. You always have to have enough safe snacks on you to get you through the day, especially if you might be out over a meal time. It is no bad thing. It stops him eating junk and stops me wasting money on over-priced sandwiches in shops. However, sometimes the day runs away with you and his appetite gets the better of him and suddenly it is lunchtime and all the packed snacks are gone. What to do?
This happened to me this week and as I was walking past Pret A Manger, I thought I would run in and get him some fruit at least. I know it is mostly a sandwich shop and unlikely to present us with many suitable options but I have always been impressed by the quality of the fresh fruit and like the fact they sell ‘singles’. I didn’t really want to have to go to a supermarket and buy a bunch of bananas. I didn’t need a whole bunch. Just one. Zac ran straight to them. It just goes to show how well he copes with his own condition because he didn’t look at any of the cakes or biscuits, all of the treats carefully placed and positioned to tempt the hungry shopper. I was so proud of him.
He chose a banana and a nectarine and a bottle of water. We took them to the till and it was me who spotted a potentially safe treat. Dark chocolate covered rice cakes. I read the ingredients list and it appeared safe. But sometimes that is not enough, so I asked the person serving. I think she may have been the manager or at least a more senior team member because she was extremely happy to answer the question and seemed unusually well informed. Perhaps they just have great staff training and customer service.
I was impressed and very grateful. Most people pull a face and look irritated. She told me she was almost certain that they were totally dairy free as well as gluten free but would check. She then reached for a folder behind the counter, flipped the page and instantly landed on what I imagine is a list of every product they sell and all of the ingredients. I imagined it to just be a simple tick list, as she scanned it very quickly and could see that it was safe and totally free from gluten and dairy. She did warn me that they did contain soya though. Obviously, she was aware that this could be on the allergy hit list and felt she should let me know, just in case that was a problem for us too.
So I thanked her and bought the rice cakes, they were delicious but quite large so Zac couldn’t finish a whole one. I ate the bit he left and can say that I will be buying them again. Really tasty, totally safe for my intolerant child and better still, low in fat and calories – so great for me too! Thanks Pret – we now know where to come next time we have a shopping/snack emergency. Keep up the good work.
Others – please take note. A checklist behind the counter – not exactly groundbreaking or expensive, but can make a big difference to a ‘sufferer’ and will have a pleasant impact on your profits. When the intolerant folk find a safe place to eat – they tell people about it! They also tell people about bad experiences, so don’t forget to take care of us.