Discovering a new food allergy in yourself or a family member can do a number on your usual cooking and eating routine. Adjusting to this new limitation can seem overwhelming at first, but no matter what allergy you are trying to work around, you can find creative and tasty ways to create your family’s favorite meals and continue to enjoy food. When it comes to the most common food allergies, many others have already lead the way, discovering and creating any substitution or recipe you may want.
An increasing prevalence in dairy sensitivities, lactose intolerance, and vegan diets have provided an abundance of options for families working around a dairy allergy. Look for a soy, rice, or almond-based milk substitute. Always read the ingredients on everything you buy – even the most unlikely products can sneak in a little dairy. Look for dairy-free or vegan labels when you shop, and then double check the ingredients to be sure.
Although nuts are typically easier to avoid in foods than other common allergens, many patients with nut allergies have extremely severe reactions from even the slightest contact. If your child has a nut allergy, make sure his teachers, friend’s parents, and other adults in his life know about it. Teach your child to ask about everything before eating it. Even the smell can be bothersome, so he may need to move to another table if a friend is eating a peanut butter sandwich, and those who have consumed nuts or peanut butter should wash their hands before coming in contact with the allergic child.
A wheat allergy can make restaurant-eating difficult, but there are variety of alternative flours and pastas you can purchase for your own kitchen. When shopping, remember that wheat often appears in unlikely products, and it can surface under several names. Ask your doctor or pediatrician about what exactly you need to avoid. Keep in mind that although there is a lot of overlap, “wheat-free” and “gluten-free” means two different things. If you are avoiding gluten, many products labeled wheat-free will still need to be passed over.
No matter what allergy you’re working with, the most important habit to develop is reading labels. Don’t assume once you’ve checked a label that the product will be safe forever. Ingredients can change. Reread the label every time you shop.
If you are struggling to accommodate a new diet in your family due to allergies, we can help! Call our free Consult-a-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120 with your questions. We can also provide a physician referral upon request.