Expert advice, Nutrition, Top 5’s

5 Ways To Deal With Food Allergies

Charmaine D Souza

PG in Applied Nutrition and Dietetics

5 min read

 

A food allergy generally occurs when the body's immune system triggers an abnormal response to the food we have consumed. Even though there isn't a cure for food allergies, there are some precautions which we can take to ensure we don't compromise our well-being.

01

Read Every Food Label

Reading every food label may sound like a cumbersome task, but it is highly imperative for you so you can avoid any unnecessary allergic reactions. Did you know that there are at least 160 foods that can lead to allergic reactions in those with food allergies? The eight most common allergenic foods that account for 90 per cent of all food reactions are:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Soybean
  • Wheat
Any of these eight foods, or ingredients derived from them, is designated as a "major food allergen." These food allergens can be identified on food labels in one of these three ways;
  1. Ingredient name For example, the allergen name "milk" may be included in the ingredient name "buttermilk."
  2. Following the ingredient name The food allergen may appear right after the ingredient, like "whey (milk)," "lecithin (soy)," and "flour (wheat)."
  3. After the ingredients list A "contains" statement which may appear next to the list of ingredients, such as "contains milk, soy, and wheat."
The FALCPA's labelling requirements only apply to certain foods that may contain an allergen and not to the major food allergens due to cross-contact while it is being manufactured. Warning labels which indicate that the product "may have been prepared in a facility that also uses nuts" or "might contain traces of nuts" is voluntary. Always be mindful and cautious when UR grocery shopping as you may end up buying products without labels — like as a pastry or a cake from a patisserie.

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02

Cross contact or contamination

Anyone who has a food allergy should be cautious of mixing utensils or cooking food using the same pots and pans, which may contain the food allergens that can trigger an allergic reaction.

  • Purge UR kitchen. Get rid of all products that you can't eat from UR refrigerator, freezer and pantry.
  • Clean all UR cooking utensils, cookware, stovetop, microwave and oven with soap and water.
  • Organize and separate food prep areas in UR kitchen and in case UR sharing a kitchen with roommates or other family members who eat foods that you can't.
  • Cook allergy-safe foods first if UR cooking multiple dishes.
  • Cover allergy-safe foods to prevent them from being spluttered with unsafe foods.
  • Always wash UR hands with soap and water whenever you have handled or come in close contact with a food allergen. Soap and water and commercial wipes will eliminate food allergens, but water alone or sanitizing gels won't.
  • Sanitise surfaces, tables and counters with soap and water after cooking every meal to avoid contamination.
  • Never share food to ensure that cross-contact does not occur.

03

Be Aware Of All The Symptoms

If you are someone you may know has food allergies, you should be aware of every allergic reaction which can affect the body.

  • Skin: Itching, hives, redness, rashes, red bumps and swelling under the skin
  • Eyes: Teary-eyed, swelling around UR eyes and redness
  • Upper respiratory: Run nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, hoarseness, itching and dry cough
  • Lower respiratory: Tightness in chest, wheezing, breathlessness and cough
  • Mouth: Swelling of tongue, palate, lips and itching
  • Gastrointestinal: Reflux, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, bloody stool and abdominal pain
  • Cardiovascular: Slow or rapid heartbeat, dizziness, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness and fainting
  • Other: Uterine contractions
Symptoms of anaphylaxis can be a challenge to recognize. If you're experiencing any one of the three conditions listed below within minutes to several hours after food exposure, you are likely facing an anaphylactic episode:
  1. Any signs or symptoms that involve and affect UR face, nose, mouth, or gastrointestinal tract, impaired breathing, or a drop in blood pressure, confusion, or loss of consciousness.

  2. Two or more of the following symptoms such as; hives, itchiness, tongue or lip swelling, breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure, stomach cramps, or vomiting.

  3. Blood pressure drop, which can lead to fatigue and fainting. 
Anaphylaxis can occur as: a single reaction that improves with or without treatment after exposure to allergic food; two results that occur between 8 and 72 hours apart; or a long-lasting response that may continue for hours or even for a few days. An intramuscular injection of epinephrine should be used as soon as possible to treat an anaphylactic reaction after it occurs.

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04

Always Prepare Yourself For An Emergency

It would be best if you were prepared in case of an emergency. Always carry your auto-injector with you to avoid any fatal situations. Consult UR doctor and understand what safety protocols you, UR family, friends, colleagues and others need to do if UR unable to tend to yourself during an emergency. Never miss any doctor consultations as this will help you stay safe, healthy and out of harm's way.

05

Learn How To Use An Auto-Injector

Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) may be used to treat anaphylaxis. Epinephrine works better when injected within minutes of an allergic reaction and prevents swelling of the throat, reduced respiration and low blood pressure quickly. It is crucial that you, UR relatives, teachers or colleagues know how to use an auto-injector with epinephrine and there is no delay in administering the medicine. A delay in applying the auto-injector can turn out to be fatal and even death in some cases due to anaphylaxis within 30-60 minutes. Always make sure UR carrying UR auto-injector with you at all times whether UR outdoors or in UR home. One should use their auto-injector immediately if they have the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Tightness in throat
  • Coughing
  • Weak pulse
  • Rashes, hives or swelling of the skin
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain
Once you have administered the auto-injector call for medical help and inform them of UR loved one's specific food allergy so they can avail the right treatment on time.

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