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Avoiding food allergies

A food allergy is a predictable reaction to a specific food or food group. Symptoms typically appear within a few minutes to two hours of consuming the food. They can range from mild – like a rash, itching, or swelling – to life-threatening, including breathing difficulties and swelling of the throat or tongue.

The most common causes of food allergy are these eight foods:

  • Milk

  • Egg

  • Peanut

  • Tree Nut

  • Soy

  • Wheat

  • Fish

  • Shellfish

Most Common Symptoms of Food Allergies

An allergic reaction to food can affect the body in the following ways:

  • Skin – itching, redness, red bumps, swelling under the skin, rashes

  • Eyes – itching, tears, redness, swelling around the eyes

  • Respiratory problems– runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, dry cough,chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath

  • Gastrointestinal – nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloody stools

  • Cardiovascular (extreme allergic reaction)– rapid or slow heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness

Tips for Avoiding Food Allergies

So how should we protect ourselves from food allergies? These four tips can help you create a system that can feel manageable, even in everyday routine, therefore, avoid food allergies.

  1. Always read labels. Today, food labels include important allergy information such as whether any additives contain milk protein or by-products of wheat, or whether a food was produced in a facility that processes nuts. Manufacturers frequently change ingredients, and an allergen may be part of a new formulation, so you should always check the labels before buying a product.

  2. Take care while cooking. If everyone in the household isn't following an allergen-free diet, you want to be sure to avoid cross-contamination. It's a good idea to have two sets of cooking and eating utensils - one exclusively for the allergic person, so that a knife used to cut a peanut butter sandwich isn't inadvertently pressed into service buttering the toast of someone who's allergic to peanuts.

  3. Dine out consciously. It's wise to let the manager or chef know about your food allergy before you order. People with food allergies should carry a printed note specifying all the ingredients they are allergic to as well as a request that all dishes, utensils, and preparation surfaces are free from traces of that food.

  4. Always carry your medication with you in ideally two doses. If your doctor has prescribed emergency medication for you, always take an extra dosage with you for contingency.

Substitutes for Food Allergens

If you’re allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts, you can still safely eat seeds and seed butter. Popular substitutes include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, sunflower butter, and soy butter. There are a wide variety of milk substitutes, including coconut, soy, almond, and rice milk.You can always replace shellfish with other lean proteins or mushrooms.

Dealing with food allergies can be daunting. The effects of a reaction range from somewhat bothersome to potentially deadly. At this time, there are no medications that cure food allergies. The most important treatment is the elimination of the allergy-causing food. If you have an allergy to a certain food, you must become familiar with all related ingredients that could potentially cause a reaction. A good rule of thumb is, when in doubt, don't eat it.

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