New to food allergies

by Adam LevineJan 04, 2020

New to food allergies?

New to food allergies?

Here’s what you need to know 

Being newly diagnosed with food allergies can be overwhelming. Parents tend to feel anxious and disoriented when their children are diagnosed. The diet and lifestyle changes that allergies require can feel like a big challenge in your life. Can I still go to my favorite restaurant? Where do I find allergen information on food labels? Will my child be safe when eating at school?

As in every other aspect of life, knowledge is power. After the diagnosis, it’s time to get to work and learn everything you can about this new situation. Being conscious of every step and small change is important and, over time, it will all feel much more manageable.

Fortunately, nowadays there’s a lot of available information for people with food allergies and more and more specialized companies are bringing allergy safe food to the market. Here’s the basic info you need to know when you start this journey: 

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What is a food allergy? 

A food allergy is a medical condition in which, when being exposed to a food, there’s a harmful immune system response. The reactions range from mild to life-threatening. They are medically diagnosed by food allergy tests. It’s important not to confuse them with food intolerances, which are related to the digestive system and tend to have less severe symptoms. 

Are food allergies common? 

The answer is simple: yes. There are 32 million Americans suffering from food allergies, including 5.6 million children under the age of 18. That’s one in 13 children, roughly two in every classroom. The most common allergens are dairy, eggs, nuts, fish and shellfish. You’ll be surprised, once you start talking about your allergies with people around you, to find out how many of them suffer from food allergies as well. 

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Will they have an impact on my everyday life? 

There’s no denying that, once you find out that you have a food allergy, you’ll have to go through a period of adaptation. Besides educating yourself about nutrition and avoiding all risks, you have to learn how to be mindful at all times and plan ahead. If you’re having dinner at a restaurant or at a friend’s house, call in advance and make sure you’ll have something allergy safe to eat. Also, if you could get life-threatening reactions to your food allergy, carry your epinephrine auto-injector at all times. It’ll get easier with time and you’ll internalize this process as part of your everyday life. 

How can I control what my child eats outside home? 

When protecting your child’s health, communication is key. Once you have a complete understanding of the food allergy diagnosis and everything that implies, make an appointment with your child’s school and take all the time you need to make sure they’ve understood the new situation. It’s normal to feel fear when you’re not controlling what your child eats, but schools nowadays are sensitive and informed and normally they offer safe alternatives for students with food allergies. 

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How can I control what my child eats outside home? 

When protecting your child’s health, communication is key. Once you have a complete understanding of the food allergy diagnosis and everything that implies, make an appointment with your child’s school and take all the time you need to make sure they’ve understood the new situation. It’s normal to feel fear when you’re not controlling what your child eats, but schools nowadays are sensitive and informed and normally they offer safe alternatives for students with food allergies. 

Where can I find allergy safe food? 

Grocery shopping can also feel overwhelming with food allergies. As it’s compulsory to read all the components on food labels to make sure there are no ingredients (or traces!) that could cause a reaction, a trip to the supermarket can be tedious and take a lot of time. You need to plan ahead your weekly grocery shopping list: start by listing all the food you eat in a regular week and then do market research on allergy safe products. Being persistent and mindful will save you time and even money. 

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