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How to Manage Food Allergies

July 19, 2016

By Jessica Vician

How to Manage Food Allergies | Did you know that one in 13 children has a food allergy? | A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bowl of macaroni and cheese can be deadly for someone allergic to peanuts or dairy.

Did you know that one in 13 children has a food allergy? According to Kids with Food Allergies, the following foods cause the most allergic reactions in the U.S.:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (like walnuts or pecans)
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Shellfish (like shrimp, lobster, crab)
  • Fish

With so many common foods and ingredients, it may seem impossible to either diagnose your child’s food allergy or cook for a friend with a food allergy. But there are ways to manage it.

Diagnosing Food Allergies
If you suspect your child has food allergies, speak to his or her pediatrician immediately. The doctor can run tests and diagnose the food allergy.

Some signs to look for include: rashes, itching, swollen lips or tongue, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and trouble breathing.

If your child’s doctor diagnoses him or her with a food allergy, follow the doctor’s directions to avoid future allergic reactions. Refer to FoodAllergy.org’s parent resources for helpful information.

Some changes will include:

  • Adjusting the way your family eats by eliminating the foods your child is allergic to.
  • Learning to read food labels, looking for any ingredient that may contain the allergen.
  • Teaching your child to manage the allergy and cook with other foods as he or she gets older.
  • Alerting friends, family, teachers, and school administration about your child’s food allergy and how to avoid putting your child in contact with the allergen. Use this publication from FoodAllergy.org to help educate the school on your child’s allergy.

Cooking for Your Child’s Friends with Allergies
If your child’s classmates or friends have food allergies, you might first find it frustrating to have to make so many accommodations. While your feelings are valid, try to put yourself in the child’s shoes.

You can accommodate your child’s friends’ allergies by starting with these efforts:

  1. Avoid cooking with the allergen.
    Refer to the top of this article for a list of the most common food allergens and ask a teacher or the child’s parents what the child is allergic to. You can also ask the child’s parents for recipes and tips for preparing his or her favorite foods.
  2. Avoid cross-contact when preparing foods.
    Say you’re making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your son. Normally, you might wipe the peanut butter off the knife before dipping it in the jelly. That method is fine for a child without peanut allergies, but could be fatal for a child with peanut allergies.

    Instead, you would use a new knife for the jelly (and make sure no one in your house has ever dipped an unclean knife in the jelly) before giving a child with a peanut allergy a jelly sandwich.

    Think of it like preparing food for a strict vegetarian. You wouldn’t use the same knife to cut a juicy ham and then cut tofu with it. Nor would you pick chicken out of a salad. You would make a separate salad for the vegetarian, washing all of the tools used on the chicken salad with hot soap and water, washing your hands between preparations, etc.

Remember, food allergies can be fatal. Take them seriously and educate anyone who cooks for your child about his or her needs. If a friend has the allergy, ask his or her parents for advice on how to cook for the child. Information is the best way to prevent any accidents.

Tags :  physical, health
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