How Tos for Coping with Food Allergies

If you're diagnosed with a true food allergy, what's next? There's no cure. You'll likely need to avoid the troublesome food—and prepare and choose meals and snacks with care! If you must eliminate a food, or a category of food, plan carefully to ensure that your eating plan is nutritionally adequate and fits your food preferences and lifestyle.

Start by seeking professional help. A registered dietitian can help you learn to manage a food allergy while eating a varied and balanced diet. For example, ask about making food substitutions, reading food labels, and dining away from home. Ask about nutri

  • if peanut, soy, or nut oils can cause an allergic response? Most peanut and soy oils are highly refined, making them free of the protein allergen. Research shows that people with peanut or soy allergies don't have reactions to these commonly used oils; extremely sensitive people are still wise to be cautious. Cold-pressed peanut and tree nut oils are processed differently and may contain small amounts of protein allergens that can trigger a reaction.
  • if chocolate really causes acne? No; chocolate doesn't cause acne or make acne worse. Hormones and hygiene, rather than a chocolate allergy, are more likely the culprits. A true food allergy to chocolate is rare. Instead, a reaction to a chocolate bar may come from other ingredients mixed in, such as nuts or milk. .. . if foods modified by biotechnology contain allergens? It's possible. But no "biotech" foods to date have protein from known allergenic foods. The U.S. FDA policy states that any protein taken from a food causing a known allergic reaction should be considered allergenic, too. And it must be listed on the label of a food produced by biotechnology. See "FoodBiotechnology: Nutrition Opportunity!" in chapter 9.

ent supplements, too, in case you need to make up for any vitamins or minerals missed in an allergen-free diet. See chapter 23 for more on supplements.

Prepare for emergencies! Carry injectable epi-nephrine, or for less severe reactions, antihistamine and bronchodilators, in case you accidentally consume a food allergen. Be prepared to use it as directed, and to get immediate medical help if needed. Wear an identification necklace or bracelet that identifies your allergy.

Eating Allergen-Free at Home

Whether for yourself or a family member, here's how to buy, prepare, and serve food to cope with a food allergy. Simply cooking a food or scraping the aller-genic food (e.g., peanuts) off the plate won't make it safe for food allergy sufferers.

  • Read food labels carefully for "undercover" allergens every time you buy or use food. If, for example,
  • if food allergies trigger asthma? Only in very rare cases. The usual triggers are allergens in dust, molds, pollen, and animals; pollutants in the air; respiratory infections; some medications; physical activity; and perhaps weather changes. If food appears to be a trigger, consult your doctor.
  • if there's a cure for food allergies? At this time there's no known cure. Research is under way to find a vaccine that may reduce or eliminate the symptoms of severe food allergies. Avoiding foods with allergens is the only protective approach.
  • if soy is a good substitute for people with other allergies? Yes, if the person isn't allergic to soy, too. Calcium-fortified soy beverage can substitute for cow milk—if you get milk's other nutrients elsewhere. Soy nuts can be used in place of peanuts or tree nuts.
  • if foods labeled as "nondairy" are okay for people with milk allergies? You need to carefully read the label to find out. For most people with a milk allergy, a key protein in milk called casein causes a reaction. Casein or caseinates are common additives. caseinates are common additives.
Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Peanuts can leave you breathless. Cat dander can lead to itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing. And most of us have suffered through those seasonal allergies with horrible pollen counts. Learn more...

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