Having a food allergy is no fun, to put it lightly. If you’re lucky, your food allergy may result in just a little bit of discomfort. On the other extreme, your allergy may be one of the potentially deadly ones. There’s no cure for allergies. This means you have to take extra precautions to avoid triggering your allergies.
Here are some tips to help manage your food allergies. You may also like reading 5 natural ways to boost your immune system.
1. Read Food Labels To Keep Food Allergies At Bay
In the UK, all prepacked food state their ingredients of the product. Which is law requirement as well. These food labels display certain compulsory information including allergens.
The law states that all provided labels should be as accurate as possible. Food labels are life-savers, literally, when it comes to managing food allergies. Reading these food labels in an attempt to avoid getting your allergies triggered may seem obvious, but sometimes, these labels may be confusing.
It is best to avoid foods whose labels read “may contain” or “manufactured in a facility that also processes”. Usually, these products may have traces of allergens because of cross-contact during the manufacturing process. You should read food labels every single time. Even if you’ve bought and consumed a particular product several times before.
It’s not unusual for food manufacturers to add new ingredients to their products. If you’re buying food without labels – from a bakery, for instance – be extra careful. Take special care to ask for the ingredients of the product.
2. Avoid Cross Contact To Manage Allergies
Cross-contact is what happens when an allergen is unintentionally transferred from one food to another food which isn’t supposed to contain the allergen. Many people undermine this aspect when managing their food allergies.
One way cross-contact can happen is by using the same utensils which have been used to prepare an allergen-containing food, to prepare a meal that is supposed to be allergy-safe.
If you’re sharing a kitchen with someone who has the same allergies as you do, you have to take certain precautions in a bid to manage your allergies.
For one, you should clean all cooking utensils and surfaces properly with soap and water (preferably warm). And its better that you do before those same utensils and surfaces are used to prepare an allergen-safe meal.
A good idea would be to use separate utensils to prepare and eat food. One set of utensils should be exclusively for the person who has the allergy, and the other should be for those who don’t have the allergy.
If possible, a unique food preparation area should be set aside solely for the preparation of allergen-free food. This will go a long way in managing your allergies. Also, you should cover all allergy-safe foods properly to prevent them from being contaminated by traces from allergy-unsafe foods.
3. No Cross Reactions, No Food Allergies
When a particular food contains proteins similar to those present in the food you’re allergic to, cross-reactivity could occur. Cross-reactivity is when your immune system mistakes similar proteins for each other. This could result in the occurrence of the same allergic reaction to a different food.
That’s why people who are allergic to peanuts are better off avoiding all nuts in general. Also, if you’re allergic to cow milk, you’re very likely to be allergic to goat’s milk as well.
This is very important information to know in order to properly manage your food allergies.
Before eating food similar to one you’re allergic to, you should first of all test to make sure you’re not allergic. One way you could do this is through a skin test.
During a typical skin test, a bit of the potential allergen is placed on your skin by a doctor or nurse. Afterwards, a scratch or tiny puncture is made on the outer layer of your skin.
Another option is to do an oral food challenge (OFC). During an OFC, you eat food slowly in gradually increasing amounts. This is done under the watch of a doctor or a nurse.
4. Dine Out With Caution
While eating out, before you order anything, let the chef or manager know that you have an allergy. Take special care to make sure you’re not served anything that is unsafe for you.
If you’re like the average person in the UK, you eat out relatively often. Therefore, this tip is key to managing your food allergies.
Carry a chef card, especially if you have a potentially life-threatening allergy. A chef card is basically a note that explicitly lists the substances you’re allergic to. Most times, it also contains a request for all utensils and surfaces being used to prepare your food to be free from traces of the listed allergens.
5. Have An Emergency Plan
Best case scenario, you never come down with an allergic reaction. However, while you hope for the best, it’s only wise to prepare for the worst. Being prepared for an emergency allergic reaction begins with you knowing how to use your auto-injector.
Family, friends, co-workers, teachers, or anyone who is often in close contact with you, should also know how to use an auto-injector. When they do, they can help you manage your allergies. This is particularly important if your allergy is life-threatening.
When you’re going out, make sure you carry your auto-injector with you at all times. It should be quick and easy to locate by anyone who may have to assist you with administering the drug.
Another way to manage your allergies when you’re out is by simply making sure you always have on a medical ID bracelet. This should contain your name, allergy, emergency contact, and other necessary information about your allergy. An anaphylaxis wallet card can be used in place of a medical ID band.
Even after epinephrine has been administered, it is still a good idea to call emergency services. Inform them that first aid has been administered.
Living with a food allergy is a burden. However, knowing and practicing these tips to help you manage your food allergies will make the burden lighter. And, it’ll make you much safer.