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Living with a food allergy

If you have a diagnosed food allergy to ingredients such as milk, eggs or peanuts, the best way to prevent symptoms is to try to avoid those food triggers.

To make sure you eat a well-balanced diet while avoiding your triggers talk to a registered dietitian. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Work with your doctor 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 cookery book with recipes that cater for 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. Recognising the onset of a reaction allows you to take quick action.

Food allergy tip, always be prepared

  • Be prepared for an emergency. If you have severe allergies and have medication to treat anaphylaxis, carry your medication with you at all times in case you accidentally eat a trigger food. If you have an anaphylactic reaction make sure someone knows how to administer the medication (if you are unable to do so) and knows to call 999 or take you to A&E.
  • The Food Allergy Initiative advises people with food allergies to carry a card that lists the foods to which they are allergic. The card can be given to the chef, manager or server prior to ordering food at a restaurant.

Food allergy tip, take note of hidden sources of problem foods

Allergy triggers can be found in the most unlikely foods, so keep the following points in mind.

  • The same supermarket meat slicer used to cut sandwich meats may be used to cut cheese products too. When this is done small particles of cheese can be transferred to sliced meats.
  • To add flavour 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 African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese foods contain peanuts or are prepared in areas near peanuts.
  • Some beanbags are filled with crushed nutshells.
  • Some labels use the term 'may contain' to indicate the possible, but unintentional, presence of food allergens in their products.


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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on July 29, 2016

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