A food allergy is an intolerance to certain food, beverage or food additive. Ingesting these foods could trigger an immune reaction, leading to a wide range of symptoms including hives, inflammation, itchy, blotchy skin, tight chest, and even anaphylactic shock. In some cases, food intolerance is deadly and avoiding triggers are the only way to reduce reactions from certain foods.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid triggers especially if the additives are added to otherwise “safe” foods. So how do you cope with food intolerances? Consider these tips:
The only way to reduce the chances of a food allergy is to completely eliminate allergens from your diet. If you’re allergic to eggs, shun them from your diet. Do not eat foods that contain traces of eggs too. The same thing goes if you are allergic to peanuts or shellfish.
Read Food Labels
Make it a habit of reading the food labels especially if you or a loved one is deathly allergic to certain food additives. By law, US food manufacturers are required to list down additives that could potentially trigger an allergic reaction. These additives are: peanuts, shellfish, crustaceans, tree nuts, fish, milk, wheat, soy, and eggs.
It’s equally important to know the different terms used to name these allergens. For example, scampi or crevettes refer to shellfish while arachis, mandelonas or hydrolyzed vegetable protein, refer to peanuts. If any of these products is listed on canned goods, pass on it.
Cross-contamination occurs when the food you eat is exposed to a food you are allergic to. For example, canned goods that contain traces of allergy triggers can cause an allergic reaction. Manufacturers warn shoppers of cross-contamination by labeling their goods with “may contain peanuts” or “Manufactured on equipment also used for shellfish.” So always watch out for these labels to avoid cross-contamination.
Pay Attention to Food Preparation
It’s harder to avoid food allergies when you eat at a restaurant or food court. Our advice is to be particular about the food you eat. Start by researching how a specific restaurant prepares the food and what you can do to ensure your own safety. Before heading out, call the restaurant and inquire how they deal with people afflicted with severe food allergy. Let them know that you will eat at their restaurant at a certain date and tell the management about your food allergy. Once you confirm your reservation and you arrived at the restaurant, remind your waiter about your food allergy. This sounds like too much work, but this is an effective way to reduce an allergic reaction when you are eating out.
Cleanliness in preparing food is a must if you are severely allergic to certain additives, beverages or food. Make sure the food is prepared the right way so it’s not exposed to contaminants and allergens. For example, wash your hands before and after preparing a meal to ensure your loved one’s food is free from traces of irritants like peanuts or eggs.