You Have a Food Allergy—Now What?

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You Have a Food Allergy—Now What?

Date: 04/19/11

You Have a Food Allergy—Now What?

You just received the news that you are allergic to wheat. What does that mean?

What can you eat and what happens if you do eat a food to which you are allergic?

There are eight foods that cause 90% of food allergies. They are 

  • milk
  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • soy
  • wheat
  • tree nuts (almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, etc.)
  • fish
  • shellfish

What is a Food Allergy?

A food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly believes that a food is harmful. To protect the body, specific antibodies are created to the food.

The next time any allergen–containing food is eaten, a signal is sent to the immune system that releases massive amounts of chemicals and histamines. The chemicals trigger allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system.

If you suspect that you have a food allergy, keep track of the food items and the symptoms that you experience. Your doctor can then have the diagnostic tests done.

Check out http://www.foodallergy.org and http://www.csaceliacs.org for further information on food allergies, food intolerances, and recipes for those conditions.

What to Watch For

There are no pills to take to stop food allergies. Strict avoidance of the allergy causing food is the only way to prevent a reaction.

You must learn how to read ingredient labels to avoid allergy causing foods. Check the food allergies below for items or ingredients that have proteins that can cause the allergy symptoms: 

  • milk—goat’s milk
  • foams or milk topping on specialty coffee drinks
  • egg substitutes as most are made of egg white
  • commercially cooked pastas
  • peanuts—artificial nuts (sometimes are de-flavored peanuts that are re-flavored with pecan or walnut flavoring)
  • arachis oil
  • African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese dishes often contain peanuts
  • many foods sold in bakeries and ice cream shops (can come in contact with peanuts)
  • many brands of sunflower seeds (can be produced on equipment shared with peanuts)
  • many alternative nut butters (can share equipment that processes peanut butter also)
  • soy—soy sauce
  • cereals
  • crackers
  • infant formulas
  • soups
  • cold–pressed, expeller–pressed or extruded soybean oil
  • wheat—Kamut, Spelt, possibly hot dogs, ice cream, imitation crabmeat labels, Asian dishes that use beef, pork and shrimp flavored wheat as an ingredient
  • tree nuts—artificial nuts
  • Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavoring),
  • Mortadella (may contain pistachios)
  • barbeque sauce, cereal, crackers, ice cream, hacky–sacks (are sometimes filled with crushed nut shells)
  • fish and/or shellfish
  • Caponata, Caesar salad dressing, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce
  • cooking oil used to cook fish
  • surimi (imitation crab contains fish)
  • carrageenan and iodine should not cause fish/shellfish allergy symptoms

Make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian to help you to plan a healthy diet while avoiding the allergy–causing foods.

Tips for Allergy Reaction Free Days

Prepare allergy-free dishes early in the day, cover them, and keep them separate from the cooking area.

If you have milk allergy, do use broth to flavor mashed potatoes.

Remember that many people use butter or margarine that contains milk for cooking.   

Do use parchment paper as a liner for countertops when blending or mixing foods that may cause a reaction, and throw the paper away when you are finished.

If you have a fish or seafood allergy, do not choose a seafood restaurant, as any food prepared in the oil used for frying fish, grill used to cook fish, and spatula used to turn fish could be used for your meal.

Do ask about ingredients and cooking methods used whether you are in a restaurant, friend’s home, or about to serve a dish someone brought to your home.

Do not eat high risk foods including desserts, sauce, pastry–covered dishes, and fried foods when eating away from home.

Here is a gluten/wheat–free recipe collection. It is delicious!

Lemon Bars

Crust (mix and bake first):

1/2 cup butter/margarine
1 cup GF flour mix (see below)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix with pastry blender and pat into a 4x 8” pan (bread loaf pan) and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Lemon Filling

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon rind
3 1/2 Tbsp GF flour mix
1 tsp baking powder

Pour over baked crust and bake for 20-23 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool, and sift small amount of powder sugar over all, cut and remove from pan.

Gluten–Free Flour Mix

1 1/2 cups White Rice Flour
1/2 cup Sweet Rice Flour
2/3 cup Potato Starch
1/3 cup Tapioca Flour

Mix this ahead and store it in an air–tight container.

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