A food allergy is caused when the body's immune system mistakes an ingredient in food, as harmful and creates a defense system to fight it. Although a person could have an allergy to almost any food, the following foods account for almost 90% of all food-related allergic reactions: Milk- Eggs- Peanuts- Tree nuts, such as cashews and walnuts- Fish- Shellfish -Soy and Wheat
Strictly avoiding your trigger foods is the only way to prevent a reaction and maintain control over your food allergy. To make sure you eat a well-balanced diet while avoiding your triggers you should talk to a registered dietician. Here are some tips to get your started.
· Work with your healthcare provider to develop a written action plan that outlines what to do in the case of a reaction. Make sure your friends and loved ones know what to do in an emergency.
· Always take worsening symptoms seriously.
· Diversify your diet by eating fruits and vegetables that are more exotic, especially if you are allergic to those that are more common.
· Invest in a cookbook with recipes that cater to your food allergy. In some cases, common food allergens can be easily removed or substituted in recipes.
· Be aware of any changes in how you feel after eating. Recognizing the onset of a reaction allows you to take quick action.
· Read all food labels. Learn alternate names for foods to which you may be allergic. For example, if you are allergic to milk, you need to avoid products that list the following in their ingredients: casein, sodium caseinate, lactoglobulin and nougat. If you are allergic to eggs, check the ingredients for egg whites and albumin.
· Don't take chances. If a food doesn't have a label and you don't know for certain what's in it, or if you're still uncertain after reading the label, contact the retailer or manufacturer, or just don't eat it.
Allergy-triggers can be found in the least suspecting foods, so keep the following points in mind.
· To add flavor, some restaurants melt butter on steaks after they have been grilled.
· Casein, a milk protein, is sometimes used in canned meats.
· Eggs are sometimes used to create the foam topping on specialty coffee drinks.
· Some ethnic dishes, such as African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese foods, contain peanuts or are prepared in areas near peanuts.
· Some labels use the term "may contain" to indicate the possible, but unintentional, presence of foods allergens in their products.
Remember if you have severe allergies, carry your medicine with you at all times in case you accidentally eat a trigger food. If you have a reaction, be sure someone knows to take you to the emergency room.