What is a Food Allergy?
Food allergies are on the rise. Sometimes, our immune system mistakes certain foods to be a threat to our body and attacks the food protein. Symptoms manifest themselves in the form of itching or swelling of the mouth, throat, face or skin, trouble breathing, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. A severe food allergy can be life threatening.
Before imposing any diet restrictions, it is better to confirm a food allergy from a medical physician. Avoid self-diagnosis on yourself or your child. The only way to stop food allergy reactions is to completely avoid the allergy-causing food and any food product containing it as an ingredient.
Food intolerance is not the same as food allergy in that it is not immune system related or life threatening, although both might have some common symptoms. For instance, a child with milk allergy must stay away from any kind of milk product, whereas a child with lactose intolerance can tolerate a small quantity of dairy. Lactose-intolerant individuals can choose other food alternatives listed at www.firsteatright.com.
The Most Common Allergens
Milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat and soy are the most common food allergens along with fish and shellfish, accounting for 90 percent of all food allergy reactions (including adults too). Many small children outgrow allergies to milk, egg or soy, but allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to be lifelong.
Surround your Child with a Happy Environment
Shunning away from an entire food group (e.g., staying away from grains due to wheat allergy) seems to be the safest bet, but from the nutritional perspective, it is essential to find substitutes (in this example, some other grain) to fulfill the total nutritional requirements of the individual.
Take extra precaution when eating away from home. RDNs recommend taking some extra snacks and doing a groundwork on the grocery shops and eateries around your place of stay. To make your child feel comfortable, the entire family can experiment with alternative ingredients and recipes for allergy-free dishes.
Age-appropriate ways to teach your child self-help techniques to manage allergies, educating and giving action plan to caretakers and getting mental and social support for the entire family are certain ways to make your child feel safe and empowered.