Once the correct diagnosis is made, the most important factor in the successful management of food allergies is
avoidance of the foods that are problematic.   Without careful planning, the risk of an accidental exposure is high,
which in turn can be fatal.    Unfortunately, this is a difficult process-but if done consistently, it will become much
easier.   

Most importantly, do not eat anything until you know exactly what is in it.  You must read food labels carefully. While
the labeling of food ingredients has improved in recent years, the individual with a food allergy, as well as the care
giver and family members should examine food labels consistently in order to find possible hidden ingredients.   Even
foods that have been purchased for years should be examined each time they are purchased, as the manufacturer
may elect to change their recipe at anytime, resulting in the possible addition of a food that the allergic individual may
be sensitive to.   

Tips For The Home:

  • Eliminate from the house all foods that are causing food allergies.   This is especially important if a young child
    has food allergies.   If your small child is allergic to peanuts, you should not have any products that contain
    peanuts or tree nuts at home.   
  • Avoid peanut butter substitutes if you have a small child with peanut allergies.   While peanut butter substitutes
    do not have any peanuts in them, having them in the house may confuse your child who will think it is okay to
    eat it elsewhere.
  • Request that food brought in the house (for example, friends bring a dish for a party) have ingredient labels.
  • Make sure everyone knows where you keep the epinephrine auto-injector and that everyone knows how to
    use it, including the baby sitter.
  • Look for foods manufactured from companies that specialize in food allergy avoidance - they can often be
    found in the "natural" sections of grocery stores and online such as  Peanut Free Planet, Enjoy Life Foods,
    Cherrybrook Kitchen,  Cookies for Me, and Allergyfreefoods.
  • Get cooking!  Buy a food allergy cookbook, subscribe to the Living Without magazine, or check out this
    website for some free recipes to try out.



Tips For The Traveler:

Avoidance can be easy in the comfort of one’s home, but it is much more difficult in other areas, such as friend’s
houses, schools, restaurants, and other public places.    In fact, most fatal and near-fatal food allergic reactions occur
away from home.   These steps can help minimize the risks:

  • Do not eat anything until you know exactly what is in the food.  I have heard too many horror stories about people
    with food allergies who ate something without first checking the ingredients and consequently died.  A minute of
    your time to check the ingredients can save your life.
  • Do not assume that others know about your food allergy and what specific ingredients need to be avoided.  
    Educate family members, friends, teachers, and others about your food allergy.   Even if they tell you they
    know what to look for, tell them anyway.    
  • Make a card that list ingredients that need to be avoided for family, friends, and teachers.
  • If you have small children and visiting playmates, consider wiping their toys clean before letting your child play
    with them.
  • In restaurants, be sure to stress the life threatening potential of your food allergy, and ask to speak to the cook
    if possible.   Give a list of ingredients to avoid, raise awareness of the risk of cross-contamination, and ask for
    clean utensils and cookware to be used for your dish.  Do not share utensils with others at your table.
  • Ensure people wash their hands after meals.  Studies confirm that hand soaps, liquid soaps, and commercial
    wipes are effective in removing food allergens from the skin.   Note that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are
    not effective in removing food allergens from the skin.
  • Wipe the restaurant table or the airplane fold down tray to eliminate any possible food particles left from a
    previous person.
  • Bring your own food.  The school or airline cooking staff may be very good at dealing with food allergies, but
    mistakes do happen.   Bringing your own food is safest.
  • Have your child bring lunch from home, instead of buying the school lunches - and don't let them trade their
    food!
  • Give your child’s teacher an alternate snack for “surprise events”.  The teacher can give this to your child
    should other students bring a treat for a special event (birthdays)
  • Before traveling, write down information about your food allergy in the language of the country you are
    visiting.   You can also download a free food allergy dictionary here - they have one for over 20 different
    languages, including Chinese, Polish, and Greek!
  • Get a medic alert bracelet Have it inscribed with your food allergies and remember to always wear it!  You
    can get medic alert bracelets from various places including some local jewelry stores and internet vendors such
    as MedicAlert,  n-styleid, and American Medical ID.  
  • Always bring your epinephrine auto-injector where ever you go.  If flying, keep you auto-injector in the
    original box that it came with, or bring a letter from your physician stating the need for you to bring it in the plane.
  • Do not be afraid to use your epinephrine auto-injector.   Immediately use it if you are having an allergic reaction - do
    not wait, do not take benadryl first.   If in doubt, use it.   The longer you wait to use it, the less effective it will
    become.   


Consider joining the Food Allergy Research & Education network or subscribing to the Living Without magazine for
additional advice, tips, recipes, newsletters, and safety alerts concerning food allergies.
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Coping With Food Allergies

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Symptoms of food allergies

Diagnosis of food allergies

Treatment of allergic reactions

Coping with food allergies

Food allergies and vaccines


Common Food Allergies

Cow's milk allergy

Egg allergy

Fish allergy

Peanut allergy

Sesame seed allergy

Shellfish allergy

Soy allergy

Tree nut allergy

Wheat allergy


Other Food Related Disorders

Atopic Dermatitis (eczema)

Eosinophilic Esophagitis and
Gastroenteritis


Non Allergic Food Reactions

Celiac disease (gluten sensitivity)

Food Intolerance: the Basics

Lactose Intolerance

Sulfite Intolerance

Scombroid Poisoning