Food Allergies

It has been scientifically estimated that twelve million Americans suffer from food allergies. An allergy to food is an immune system’s mistaken response to a food it determines to be a harmful substance. The response can be mild or severe, depending on the degree of the allergic reaction. A mild response might include an itchy rash or hives; a severe response can cause difficulty breathing, or even loss of consciousness. There is potential for allergies in any food, but the most common food allergies are milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.

Milk is a fairly easy allergy to manage because there are many milk substitutes that are available. Rice milk, almond milk, and soy milk are all readily available to consumers now days. For infants, there are formulas available that do not have milk allergens in them. For recipes requiring milk, even water can be substituted with success. Watch for casein as a label ingredient and avoid products that contain it.

Perhaps the hardest thing about living with an egg allergy is figuring out how to prepare recipes that call for eggs. There are things you can substitute to replace the eggs in recipes and most good cook books will have these listed. One such substitute is: 1 tablespoon liquid (room temperature water or milk or substitute), 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of baking powder combined.

Peanuts requires diligence to avoid since there are hidden sources of peanuts that may not be obvious, such as the possibility that other nuts may have been processed on the same equipment as peanuts, contaminating them for the person allergic to peanuts. Even sunflower seeds are best to avoid. If you are allergic to tree nuts, watch labels for their addition in ice cream, barbecue sauce, and crackers. Shells from tree nuts are sometimes used in hacky sacks and kick sacks or bean bags.

A gluten free diet is recommended for those with allergies to wheat. Your good health will be your bonus for researching and implementing your own gluten free diet. These are some food allergies and strategies to deal with them. Sometimes detective work is required to find hidden foods in unsuspecting places. Read labels and become familiar with common hiding places. It won’t be long before you are confident that you are avoiding your particular food allergens through education, and you will be enjoying a happy, healthy, allergy-free lifestyle.